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Broadcast networks and copyright issues. (Spin off conversation.)

Discussion in 'Legislative and Regulatory Issues' started by runner861, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. runner861

    runner861 Icon

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    What you are dealing with when one talks about market exclusivity is really enforcement of copyright protection. In the United States, copyright protection is vigorously enforced, as opposed to China, where there is no copyright protection. In the United States, we have taken things too far, whereas in China they have done nothing and consequently suffer from poor-quality items and a lack of creativity and lack of protection of intellectual property.

    However, the way Congress, as a tool of the NAB, has set up the laws are totally one-sided and go far beyond what is necessary to protect copyrights. After all, copyright is what should be protected, not local stations. Many local stations are crummy and do not serve the communities to which they are licensed. However, crummy or great, these local stations, which are private entities, do not deserve government protection.

    In other words, in my opinion, if the local station is not receivable over the air in a particular location, then a carrier should be able to import a distant station affiliated with the same network to cover the void. And this should be done quickly, without some cumbersome test and without regard to whether locals are carried on the carrier already. Likewise, if a local station pulls its signal from a carrier, then the carrier should be able to import a distant station to cover the void. In other words, if a local station is by some means not available, then the carrier should be able to import a distant station.

    This is really going to become an issue on November 1, when FOX pulls its stations and no distant stations can be imported to cover the void. I know that some will argue that FOX has the copyright to the programming on its O&O stations, and that importing a distant violates that copyright, but Congress could carve out an exception if it chose to do so. Of course, it won't do that, being that it is just a tool of the NAB.

    Second, disputes over cable channels, as opposed to OTA channels, should be handled by a form of binding arbitration. Each side should be required to makes its best, final offer. During negotiations and at impasse, no stations can be pulled. Then, if no agreement has been reached, each side submits its final offer to the FCC. The FCC will then choose one of the two offers as the contract, and the other offer will be discarded. When each side knows that the final decision will be made in this way, moderation rather than extremism will be encouraged.
     
  2. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    I don't see it as copyright protection.

    That wasn't part of the discussion in 1927. At that time they pulled a multitude of licenses and then issued a few licenses with power restrictions and frequency assignments in the hopes of avoiding overlapping which had created reception chaos in the airwaves.

    And that's been the nature of broadcast frequency radio wave licensing ever since.

    Copyrights are copyrights. There exists a method of enforcement of copyrights in the courts whether it's books or video content.

    Which leads one to the question of why there is the application of DMA exclusivity imposed on satellite carriers. The answer is simple, it's a Congressionally imposed monopoly to protect the economic viability of lame broadcast stations on behalf of their owners.

    Otherwise, you would have some network affiliate stations in Omaha, Nebraska with 418,290 "television households" offering to pay the two satellite companies 5¢ per customer to carry them on their lowest tiers in order to expand the stations "television households" by 35± million.

    Yeah, I know, there's the affiliate contracts with the networks, etc. etc. But all of that structure was built around that legal structure created by [strike]your[/strike] The National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) Congress.

    There are many stories on line about the power of the NAB through lobbying and membership financial contribution. In the case of federal involvement in the things that are going on right now, we have stories such as this one in Bloomberg:
    IMHO when you follow the money which is always what one should follow you come back to two facts:
    • Instead of being subject to anti-trust laws, broadcast television operates with the protection of a Congressionally created monopoly.
    • Instead of being subject to anti-trust laws, professional sports leagues operate with the protection of Congressionally created monopolies.
    It is the result of decades of incessant lobbying and campaign financing. It has nothing to do with copyright laws which can be enforced in the courts right now IMHO.
     
  3. dfd

    dfd Legend

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    do some members really believe that the full force of the federal government should come in and set aside existing contracts, copyright law, and normal business negotiating practices because some people have lost some of their stations on one of their available providers?

    if you believe that is a wise use of authority it frightens mento see where you would stop.

    this is a battle of billionaires, let them fight it out without federal influence or money.

    if you aren't happy, change providers, if you are happy good for you but please keep the government, and especially nitwits like my Congressman Markey out of it.
     
  4. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    We can't pretend here that satellite television is unrelated to the FCC and Congress. The TV stations and the use of satellites are conditionally licensed by the federal government.

    By the way, I'm not at all comfortable with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. The guy's experience is heavily weighted as a geek lawyer in the internet business and he has been lauded as a good choice as the FCC wades into internet regulation. That's nice, but the FCC has a few other responsibilities to the public. And there's the rub.

    For eight years Genachowski was in senior executive positions at the internet company IAC/InterActiveCorp including being Chief of Business Operations, General Counsel, and a member of company founder Barry Diller's Office of the Chairman. Diller is 20 years older than Genachowski and presumably played the role of a mentor in Genachowski's career.

    Diller is one of the founders of Fox Broadcasting Company (the other founder being Rupert Murdoch). For eight years Diller was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox, Inc.

    So I feel there is a significant chance Genachowski's point of view is not in tune at all with the love/hate relationship between viewers and cable/satellite companies if only because his exposure to the TV industry history is very narrow in the form of a working relationship with a Fox founder.
     
  5. Doug in NC

    Doug in NC New Member

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    Oct 19, 2010
    You made a very good point on this situation.
     
  6. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

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    Okay. This needs a reset.

    It only would have been possible if the network affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska, would have cleared the copyrights for all of their programming. The network would have never cleared their programming for resale nationwide, and the assumption here is that the laws should have been rewritten so that the networks have no say on how their programming is distributed.

    The process for retransmitting the CBS station in Omaha to a national audience is the same now as it was in 1985. Network affiliates never had the right to resell programming nationally. So once again, we have the beef where someone wants network programming, but doesn't like the methods the network distributes their programming. I still say if one doesn't like the business practices of a company, don't watch, otherwise that person is contributing to the problem.

    Using Nielsen markets was the easiest way to clear programming. The satellite companies were not forced to carry all markets, so they could pick and choose service, and there were only 210 areas to service as opposed to working on a single station model, which would have lead to cherry-picking.
    Really? Because the networks and the content providers have had a beef with retransmitters since the early 1920's.
     
  7. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    My point exactly.

    Only in 1988 I was watching the national networks on my C-band technology - heck I could even watch what was going on during the breaks on "The Tonight Show." And I had the option to watch the Olympics coverage from the CBC. Satellite television for consumers was a new technology and it appeared to me we had an opportunity for real competition and service in the home entertainment industry.

    It's now 2010. I can watch anything I want as long as it is from the local affiliate of a network owned by one of six media conglomerates (CBS, Disney, News Corp, NBCU and Time Warner) at whatever cost they'll demand and assuming the affiliate doesn't preempt it for a Giants game.

    I can watch any Canadian programming I want as long as one of the media conglomerates decides to put it on their broadcast or cable networks and as long as it isn't the Olympics.

    Interesting way to balance the public's (viewers) interests against the interests of the media conglomerates within a regulatory framework. When new federally regulated technology is developed that might erode the asset value of other federally regulated "buggy whip" businesses, all of course in a monopolistic setting created by the regulations, the public interest seems to disappear.

    In 2010 they are, in the guise of protecting the public's interest, planning on regulating the internet. Yes indeed, the same folks who reduced my access options the last time new technology came along are now going to take care of my interests relative to the internet.:rolleyes:

    Regarding out-of-date television technology, since the government isn't going to protect my interests if they would simply remove all regulations except for frequency and power limits I'm not sure we 85% of viewers who get our TV from cable and satellite wouldn't all be better off ten years from now. I even think the other 15% would be better off ten years from now.

    Regarding copyright protections for home entertainment video, that it another story altogether.

    Yes, I think those who produce the entertainment should get paid for their works.

    And the delivery service that delivers it to our homes need to be compensated also.

    I guess what I'm saying is that my entertainment video should go from Universal Studios to UPS to me. And if it's all digitally delivered, just substitute a satellite or cable company for UPS.

    I just don't happen to think that an otherwise technologically competent society should accept a system to have us pay
    1. the cable or satellite company who before getting paid for their efforts have to deduct a payment to
    2. a local broadcast station because that was the in technology in 1958 who before getting paid for their efforts have to deduct a payment to
    3. a national broadcast TV network because that was the in technology in 1928 who before getting paid for their efforts have to deduct a payment to
    4. the folks owning the entertainment content.
    What's really disturbing about this is that for half the viewers of most of the shows today, 2, 3, and 4 in the list above are owned by CBS, Disney, News Corp, NBCU and/or Time Warner.

    What DirecTV is demonstrating on its Channel 101 is that it is perfectly feasible for the money to go only to #1 and #4 - only one middleman. So if I'm going to pay all that money at least it's being divided between the content owner and a single middleman.

    That is one less pig at the trough than even the Netflix option which requires an ISP, meaning your money goes to two middlemen, Netflix and your ISP.

    Why indeed should we support a system that gives CBS, Disney, News Corp, NBCU and Time Warner three different places to grab three of the four pieces of the fee when the copyright owner only gets one of those pieces, which copyright owner is CBS, Disney, News Corp, NBCU or Time Warner?

    I'm all for paying content owners. I'm willing to pay a delivery service to get it to me. But who the heck wants to pay for a buggy and a buggy whip in order to get the content. The existing legal structure - government regulations and contracts to which I'm not a part - is making me pay for the buggy (the broadcast network) and the buggy whip (the broadcast station)?
     
  8. runner861

    runner861 Icon

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    The copyright laws are very strong in the United States, so Congress and the NAB will never allow us to have distant stations retransmitted and available throughout the country. However, the focus can be on making distant stations available whenever a local is not available, as I described above.

    Also, one should remember that the laws should protect copyright only, not the local stations themselves.

    Until broadcast networks clear their programming for national broadcasting by local affiliates, we are unfortunately stuck with the system we have. I hate it, but we are stuck with it. The NAB will not allow change to occur, and Congress, as their tool, goes right along.

    A congressman running for reelection buys an ad on his local ABC affiliate, and he wants to be sure viewers in his district see it. He gets upset when he finds out that his constituent in state A is watching ABC programming from LA or NY, some several hundred to several thousand miles away. The people in power (in this case Congress and the NAB) will never disadvantage themselves in any way. So, as much as I would like to see us able to pick and choose to watch any station from anywhere, it will never happen.

    As I said, the people in control will never disadvantage themselves in any way. Go into any government building, you will find the building run down with lousy offices and old, broken office furniture, elevators that are unreliable, and bathrooms with broken fixtures. But then go where the people in control are, like the chambers of the judges in a courthouse or the area where the board of supervisors have their offices in a county hall of administration. You will find plush carpet, private elevators, special parking, new leather-covered furniture, the latest television and computer equipment, and private bathrooms with showers in every office.

    Do the government employees get to enjoy this luxury? No, the are forced to endure pay cuts and the old offices, etc. But the people in control, who will never disadvantage themselves, always take care of themselves. That is how it is with Congress and the NAB. Anyway, that is my lesson in life that I offer for anyone who cares to read it.
     
  9. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

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    Exactly.

    The networks started scrambling their backhauls in 1988; the network feeds all but disappeared on satellite. Canada moved to a new encryption scheme; those signals are still up there, but the encoders aren't available for sale in the United States.

    Which simply goes to prove my point: the networks want to do business their way. They shut down their backhauls. They agreed to allow companies to rebroadcast a local channel for consumption to those that could not receive a signal, in the form of the 1988 Satellite Home Viewers Act (SHVA). And when Primestar, DirecTV and Dish Network all abused the distant network license in the SHVA, they all were sued, each receiving varying degrees of punishment.

    Which goes back to the fact that copyrights are to blame for the system we have, and there are middlemen aplenty, technological advances aside. That's what happens when there are content agregators. It is rights, not technology that rules the business.
     
  10. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Fox is the only network that scrambles its signal today. ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, MNTV are all unscrambled. Canada, however, continues to scramble everything. I used to enjoy watching CBC occasionally.
     
  11. runner861

    runner861 Icon

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    So are you saying that on c-band you can receive abc, nbc, cbs, cw, and mntv backhauls?
     
  12. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    I can receive the network distribution to the affiliates, and most of the non-fox sports feeds, yes. Came in real handy for the Olympics.
     
  13. runner861

    runner861 Icon

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    What equipment are you using?
     
  14. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Pansat9200HD with DVB-S2 board, 10' dish. Better choice would be AZBox...its more sensitive than my 9200HD which is a few years old.
     
  15. HobbyTalk

    HobbyTalk Hall Of Fame

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    The federal gov. gives them a monopoly within each DMA, thus there is no competition. Dish would be breaking the law if they offered stations outside the DMA.
     
  16. James Long

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

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    The content owner gives the station a "monopoly" for their market, not the government. And every one of the stations in the network has agreed to honor that agreement.

    Stations cannot agree to have their signals broadcast outside of the area that they have purchased the rights for. It violates their contract with the network. The current laws EXPAND that area to the entire DMA and to any area deemed significantly viewed ... which allows cable and satellite to carry a station to an entire DMA or in SV areas without worrying about copyright.

    The laws are permissive. They allow carriage under certain conditions. The laws permit stations to be carried under agreements other than the statutory license the laws specify ... but no station can do that (outside of their own coverage) as they must honor their private "free market" agreements.

    Take away the laws and you would find less carriage.
     
  17. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    No if the stations from a neighboring city were available to a majority of people in that DMA with an outdoor antenna. They could then add the neighboring "significantly viewed" stations.
     
  18. adkinsjm

    adkinsjm Icon

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    What I don't like is that FOX is trying to get more out of its independent affiliates. The FOX affiliate in Bismarck, N.D., isn't on DirecTV because FOX wants a part of the affiliate's payment it will get from DirecTV.
     
  19. runner861

    runner861 Icon

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    I believe stations can agree to have their signal broadcast outside the area they have purchased the rights for, as long as network programming and any other programming that may infringe on another station's copyright in the market to which the station is being imported is deleted. So local news and possibly some other programming can be broadcast outside the station's local market.

    If there were no laws governing carriage, then civil copyright law would govern carriage. Cable and satellite companies would face civil copyright lawsuits when they carried stations, and the courts would have to sort it all out.

    However, another problem, which I have mentioned in previous posts, is the heavy-handed way that Congress has chosen to protect the local station's copyright, which has led to people being unable to receive a local station and unable to receive a distant.
     
  20. James Long

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

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    Correct. Any station could create a "cable channel" version that deleted content that they did not have nationwide rights for and sell the remainder of the feed nationwide. There would be a lot deleted on a network station. No network programming or other regionally syndicated content.

    Of course, once the station starts providing a separate content feed it is just another cable channel. WGN and WTBS are stations that started as broadcast stations and ended up creating separate feeds. WGN America still resembles it's broadcast counterpart. TBS is not longer connected to the station from it's past.

    And that is where the government interfered ... in a good way. Providing a statutory structure that makes in market carriage reasonably easy.

    The results have turned anti-carrier and in effect, anti-viewer. Too much power has been given to the stations to sell access to their OTA signal. I believe the condition of license that requires stations to have one "free" feed should extend to rebroadcast within the footprint they claim to cover. It would solve most of the problem.

    The whole issue is schizophrenic. The government is trying to protect stations by giving them the right to refuse carriage but also protects stations by giving them the right to demand carriage. Where is the protection for the consumer?
     

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