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Are broadcast networks needed? (spin off conversation)

Discussion in 'Legislative and Regulatory Issues' started by James Long, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. Jul 12, 2010 #1 of 105
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Conversation spun off of Dish sues FCC over PBS-HD requirement in the DISH HD forum ...

    Posts moved here as they took that thread too far off topic.
     
  2. Jul 14, 2010 #2 of 105
    Bigg

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    WNET would certainly allow their signal to go farther, so I guess it's just like the big commercial networks, with a bunch of whiny little local stations.

    It would do us a huge service if the networks would just run one O&O station in each time zone in HD, and then cut the affiliates off, or at the minimum provide national feeds and then let the affiiliates do OTA. Our system of affiliates is completely insane.
     
  3. Jul 14, 2010 #3 of 105
    phrelin

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    Ah yes, the logical option for the 21st Century, both from a technological standpoint and from an economic standpoint. Rest assured, that won't happen.
     
  4. Jul 14, 2010 #4 of 105
    HarveyLA

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    It would do us a huge service if the networks would just run one O&O station in each time zone in HD, and then cut the affiliates off, or at the minimum provide national feeds and then let the affiiliates do OTA. Our system of affiliates is completely insane.

    This is off-topic for this thread. But let me respond anyway. The value of the networks ABC, CBS, NBC AND FOX is closely related to their local affiliates, especially the O&O'S. The networks themselves are money losers, supported by the profits generated by the O&O'S. They in turn, are supported in large part by their local revenues, particularly local news which is a big cash cow for many of them. Network prime time seems to be less relevant all the time. Ratings are low, and there is much more competition. Luckily, the companies owning the networks also have cable channels and other revenue sources. What would life be like without your local news? (Don't answer that!)
    As far as the PBS stations are concerned, check out the web site of KOCE in Orange County, for example, KOCE.ORG to see all the local programs they produce. PBS stations tailor their programing to their communities, and they all use pledge drives for the funds to keep them going. If you allowed a New York PBS station to beam into San Diego,for example, that would take viewers and donors away from the San Diego station. Localism in TV broadcasting has been a cornerstone of government/FCC policy since the beginning. Technology and economic forces may eventually cause the collapse of networks and/or local stations, but the government and the stations are not going to do anything to hasten that day.
     
  5. Jul 14, 2010 #5 of 105
    Greg Bimson

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    And it took that long to figure it out?

    WNET probably would not let their signal "go farther" by having national carriage on Dish Network. Most PBS stations operate on local government funds and public donations. Now imagine that WNET would have to pay PBS for programming to reach a national audience. Just because WNET could contract for a national broadcast footprint doesn't mean their expenses (programming costs) would remain the same.
    This is as far from logical as you can get. In addition to the points raised by HarveyLA, let's throw this list out there...

    New York (East)
    Chicago (Central)
    Denver (Mountain)
    Los Angeles (West)

    So Fox will no longer have affiliates other than the four listed? So Fox Television Stations will cease to be a Fox affiliate group? Can you imagine the value of these stations once they no longer carry Fox programming:

    Philadelphia
    Dallas
    Washington
    Boston
    Atlanta
    Houston
    Detroit
    Phoenix
    Tampa
    Minneapolis
    Orlando

    Young Broadcasting paid almost $1 billion for San Francisco's NBC affiliate KRON about six years ago. That station then lost its NBC affiliation, and is now barely worth $50 million. Imagine the value of Fox Television Stations now being worth a nickel instead of a dollar. That is a good five to six billion (that's BILLION) in writeoff of assets just because those stations no longer have Fox programming.

    Some of you expect because of technological advances that the economic conditions must change. Let me give the best example of all:

    The entire NFC except for the Bears and the Giants cannot be broadcast locally anymore as the NFL on Fox because Fox was dismantled to be four affiliates nationwide. Where is Fox going to show the rest of their "local coverage" games?

    The economic conditions DICTATE the broadcast networks' coverage for the NFL. That is why the affiliate model is so important.

    Now if the question were reversed, i.e., how could DirecTV and Dish Network be setup to be de facto "network affiliates", only delivering network programming, then you may be onto something...
     
  6. Jul 15, 2010 #6 of 105
    Bigg

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    Better. Of course, they could go independent and still do god-awful local news.

    As for localized content, if independent stations can't do it, then the free market would have spoken, and they should die off. If the free market supports that endeavor, than go for it.

    The affiliate model is completely outdated, and it should die. It is ultimately more economical to run 6 feeds (including Alaska and Hawaii) instead of 210.

    Football would have to go to an RSN-like model, where you get your local teams by default, and you pay more to get them all (current NFL ST).

    I like that idea. They could deliver high-quality HD network programming, while continuing to carry SD LIL's.
     
  7. Jul 15, 2010 #7 of 105
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    More economical for who? At the moment the networks run their few national feeds (with ET and CT sharing a feed) leaving it up to the affiliates to pay for and maintain transmitters - with the funding of those local transmitters done locally.

    Without the affiliates the networks would have to own and finance stations across the country ... and some markets would simply go without. As finances get tight and the network decides that a second feed to a major city is more important than a first feed to podunk.

    What you're lobbying for isn't the end of affiliate TV ... it is the end of broadcast TV - and unfortunately there are those pushing the same goal. Seeking "consolidation" where multiple content channels in a market are forced to use the same broadcast channel. Say goodbye to HD over the air.

    The affiliate model is keeping that alive and at least giving the chance that a program will air in HD. Kill the affiliates and you have killed broadcast TV.

    You must be looking through a narrow non-broadcast window. Are you looking for a system that somehows allows local affiliates to continue to exist on cable and OTA as they do today but waters down their content via satellite (favoring a separate non-local HD feed)?

    If the networks want to do this they can. There is no law preventing a network from setting up a national satellite channel (or channels) to distribute the same program they are sending their affiliates. What is stopping them is the network's agreement with their affiliates that the affiliate will get first run carriage within each local market.

    If you want what you want to actually come true you need to take over a network.
     
  8. Jul 15, 2010 #8 of 105
    Greg Bimson

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    The networks aren't running 210 feeds. The networks might be running 3 to 5 (one for East/Central, one for Mountain, one for West, and possibly one each for Alaska and Hawaii). It is the affiliates that pick up from network control their network programming.

    Obviously, to a network like Fox, it is much more economical to run affiliates in major markets. Just because Fox may have 200+ affiliates that DirecTV and Dish Network may have to rebroadcast doesn't mean that anything is more economical or outdated.

    One cannot hasten the demise of a system so despised when the networks themselves have skin in the game. The networks' livelyhood is dependent on owning some of their affiliates (most owning their large market affiliates) because the revenues are beneficial to the networks.

    Simply put, I find it quite interesting some want networks which built this economic model over decades to become quite successful, to simply scuttle that model.

    It would really interest me to see a non-fictional scenario from anyone how to get Fox or CBS to abandon their affiliate model so that it doesn't destroy their network.
     
  9. Jul 15, 2010 #9 of 105
    bnborg

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    I was always under the impression that it was local advertising that controlled all this.

    Local stations earn their revenue from the local advertising. If the programs they show are available from other sources, they lose watchers and the advertisers pay less. The stations get a guarantee of exclusivity from the networks to prevent this.

    This is why they want you to only get your broadcast network programming from the designated local station.
     
  10. Jul 15, 2010 #10 of 105
    phrelin

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    According to industry data about 99.9 million or 87% of U.S. homes receive service from a pay-TV provider, cable, telco or satellite. OTA is exclusive in only 13% or 14.9 million homes.

    At some point, the economics of national distribution to and management of agreements with affiliates will become undesirable compared to selling national or time zone signals to pay-TV providers who won't need as much time for their own local and national advertising and who pay money to affiliates that could go to the networks.

    IMHO (here I go again :sure:), that point was passed a few years ago and the only thing keeping national programming on broadcast channels is inertia.
     
  11. Jul 15, 2010 #11 of 105
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    DirecTV 18 million, DISH 14 million, less than a third of the pay-TV subscribers get their service via satellite. The 14.9 million OTA only homes NEED local broadcasts ... the 68 million+ cable homes can get a localized feed of each network (cable doesn't have to serve 211 markets). What is that? 75% of US homes served via the existing affiliate carried network structure? Not counting those who have their appropriate local network stations via satellite.

    DISH has reached 100% LIL carriage (all stations who demanded carriage or agreed to terms to be carried). Doing that again to carry HD versions will take more work. But it will be possible. There will likely be complete markets left in SD because of the requirement to "carry all" HDs in each HD market.

    Perhaps ... but that time has not come.

    All four major networks already have cable/satellite networks to put their content on. If OTA affiliation wasn't working the networks would be being dismantled. They are not.
     
  12. Jul 15, 2010 #12 of 105
    l8er

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    And money. :D
     
  13. Jul 16, 2010 #13 of 105
    rasheed

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    Just want to point out the basic cable from Comcast should get you basic HD channels via QAM (TV must support QAM singal). In one example, I saw a cable provider in California even doing a bunch of subchannels as well not just the one main HD channel.

    It is not advertised for many reasons, but should techically be there.

    Rasheed
     
  14. Jul 16, 2010 #14 of 105
    Bigg

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    There are exclusivity contracts right now. What I'd like to see are steps towards eliminating braodcast TV, and the affiliate model. Even if you just O&O'ed all the stations, in the short term, the networks would kill off the smaller ones, and then microwave in signals from a nearby city to broadcast. Ultiamtely, replicating the feed 210 times for each network is totally inefficient, and right now, and if the networks themselves were in control of everything, they would get 100% of the revenue, instead of a good chunk of it getting eaten up by small, inefficient stations.

    I don't really care about the spectrum, as aside from the "sky is falling" BS we keep hearing about spectrum, the 50mhz CLR band is plenty for mobile devices, not mention PCS and AWS now, in addition to SMH.

    The TV model, however, is absurd. The ultimate would be to get rid of the networks, and have one or two independent channels to do local programming and news in a few dozen of the larger markets, and then carry those on satellite and cable, as well as maybe OTA. As it is, local news is horrendous.

    Even if the affiliate model is too ingrained to go away, they could set up an east coast and west coast national feed (or just use the W- and K- channels) for higher quality HD, and specify in the contract that the cable and satellite carriers have to carry it 19mbit MPEG-2 CBR (not sure what U-Verse would do...), and then offer all the local affiliates in overcompressed SD for local news and the like.

    OK, so have a few channels O&O, get rid of the rest, and make the DMA's a lot bigger. Rebroadcast via microwave if you need to.

    Yup.

    NEED??? No one NEEDs TV. The only people who have OTA only now are cheap or poor. What bothers me is how in the DTV 2009 switchover, people acted like TV is a god given right. Guess what? It's a luxury. Broadbad should be a god given right though...

    Yes, as per FCC law.
     
  15. Jul 16, 2010 #15 of 105
    phrelin

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    Yes, it should be there and it may by now actually be. Comcast acquired our system in the Adelphia bankruptcy settlement. In much of our area, they're lucky to average two customers a mile. But nevertheless they have slowly and consistently been upgrading. Providing cable internet was their first achievement for which I am eternally grateful even though they can't offer the higher speeds that are available closer to San Francisco. Then they added a couple of premiums in HD and some HD VOD. It now appears that most of the infrastructure upgrade is in place, so they may very well have the locals in HD.

    But Comcast TV is expensive and we still can't get the "Triple Play" package. According to the web signup, it's either TV and internet or TV and phone in a "Double Play" package. Now if they offered phone and internet, I would have signed up as I still resent AT&T not upgrading our system enough to offer DSL.
     
  16. Jul 16, 2010 #16 of 105
    James Long

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    Who would fund those stations? You've taken away their network programming - so they don't have that to draw viewers. Most local stations that are anything more than just broadcast cable channels (airing movies or other canned material) are network stations. They get their money by attracting viewers with that network programming and making a name for themselves connected to the network.

    Killing off broadcast TV is so far off the reservation that there really isn't a response that I can give you. Are you suggesting that the government step in and kill off the networks to force national feeds?
     
  17. Jul 16, 2010 #17 of 105
    Paul Secic

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    AMEN to everything you said!
     
  18. Jul 16, 2010 #18 of 105
    runner861

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    The best and most fair option would be to uplink all stations on CONUS, but there is no space for it. However, if there were space, then allow any person to purchase any station from anywhere on an a la carte basis. Then we would see how the market would truly shake out.

    That would truly force the local stations to address their local markets. That would be the way for them to retain viewers. Local news, local programming would keep the locals alive. They wouldn't get the protection of the government that allows them to just purchase syndicated programming and network programming and ignore local coverage. They would have to sink or swim in a free market, just like a car company or a gasoline company or a grocery store.

    If the locals didn't do their job, they would go off the air, as should be the case. Under this scenario, probably network stations in LA and NY would prosper. As for other markets around the country, it would depend, as it should, on how well they served their local markets.

    Another advantage of my proposal would be that people who moved from one market to another could still receive local news from the location of their former residence.

    Three hitches that will never be overcome: satellite space, Congress, and the NAB.
     
  19. Jul 16, 2010 #19 of 105
    Greg Bimson

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    Eliminate broadcast TV. I can't wait for the pay-per-view of the Super Bowl. LOL.
     
  20. Jul 16, 2010 #20 of 105
    Bigg

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    What you people don't seem to understand is that the affiliates eat up a lot of the advertising revenue that could go directly to the networks.

    Good local stations would draw people with localized news and programming. Most DMA's wouldn't have local stations, but the bigger ones would, and those bigger ones would become semi-regional stations. There would probably be 100 of them, not close to 1000, so they could be broadcast CONUS.

    Thanks!

    In principal, I agree with you, but that's just not possible because of satellite space. What would be a compromise would be to "open up" the system, so everyone would get the channels being used for DNS, as well as neighboring channels that they happened to be in the spotbeam of. They would have to lock out people right on the fringe of the spot beams, so that people didn't call and complain that their signal goes out every time a cloud comes through the sky... It would be a HUGE step in the right direction, even if not the ultimate solution.

    It would still be on some network, somewhere, probably one of the big ones. Heck, you'd still even have basic cable with the networks being cheaper. And, even with time zone feeds, some major markets might still do OTA.
     

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