Let's take out some assumptions here, OK?
The Super Bowl "would be on some network, somewhere, probably one of the big ones. " Which one? I mean, if we are discussing the end of the network/affiliate model, which network?
Although I am trying to figure out how "you'd still even have basic cable with the networks being cheaper." How would they be cheaper? End the network/affiliate model, and the advertising dollars lost from the O&O network stations would be made up from carriage fees by charging cable and satellite companies BIG money.
And I'm also trying to wrap my head around "even with time zone feeds, some major markets might still do OTA." Watch the Super Bowl on the network feed, or on a local channel, which because of the end of the network/affiliate model means the affiliate would have to buy (without exclusivity) local rights for the Super Bowl.
There are way too many assumptions treated as fact.
Ok, let's say the networks had four O&O stations, one in NYC, one in Chicago, one in Denver, and one in LA, each broadcasting OTA. That's 46 million people with OTA coverage. No local affiliates would carry the Super Bowl. Maybe the big networks would run fiber links to other cities they thought should get OTA coverage, and broadcast their signals from nearby (i.e. broadcast WCBS-DT from New York in Philidelphia and Boston). They could have regionalized content, but not local content. That would be up to independent regional channels to handle, of which there would be maybe a few dozen at most, and those would be broadcast CONUS, as well as OTA locally.
Let the networks offer one HD feed in each time zone to Cable/Sat distribution. Let them offer one SD feed via commercial satellite to all their affiliates. Let the FCC group all the local affiliates onto one or two channels per DMA, and quadruple the allowed power so even granny with rabbit ears 60 miles away can get her "Free TV". Would allow campers access with portable DTV sets, and greatly enhance local emergency weather coverage and public service. If you want HD, subscribe to cable or satellite.
Extra bandwidth can be sold to ATT so the Iphone can have a tower every two blocks so the calls wont get dropped.
Haha, well it's not quite that simple, but yeah, there's probably better uses for the spectrum.
That revenue is used to keep local transmitters on the air and pay for local operations that keep the networks on the air. Without those local stations people wouldn't see network programming and the advertising revenues would drop (less viewers). The networks would also lose the fees paid by the affiliates.
If the affiliate system was not economically viable for networks they would pull their content from OTA and put it on one of their many cable networks.
Affiliate networks exist because they work.
That affiliation system works through a system of managed monopolies. The network sells their content with first run exclusivity to their affiliates that pay for that privilege. Grand schemes for a "national" channel of the networks interfere with that affiliation system. They violate the agreement the networks have with their affiliates for first run exclusivity.
I suppose you are one of those people who want the government to further interfere with free trade and force networks to violate their affiliation agreements for your own benefit?
How would you like it, Bigg, if the government walked into your successful business and told you they were shutting you down and putting you out on the street? It isn't a fun prospect. Hopefully no one will ever do to you what you are suggesting be done to broadcast TV networks.
If you really think OTA networks would work better without affiliates go buy one, cancel the affiliation agreements and see if it works. The people who own these networks know better ... they know that despite the flaws that the affiliation system WORKS. And when something works you keep doing it.
The networks would have just as many viewers. Echostar 15 won't discriminate based on location.
No, I'm not saying the government should do it. I think the government should give Dish, DirecTV, and the cable, fiber, and IPTV guys the right to broadcast whatever OTA station wherever they want in whatever resolution they want. That may, over time cause the current system to crumble, which is currently being protected by the DMA system and regulation.
What I'd really like is for CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX to say "enough is enough" and kill off all the affiliates and turn most of the O&O's into re-broadcasts of that time zone's master channel (maybe have two masters for East and West Coast with one for central, mountain, Alaska, and Hawaii time zones).
Either that or make new national HD feeds that are all national content and feed those to the pay TV providers.
Nope... and people aren't forced to do business with my (work) company either...
I'm actually lucky in that I can receive affiliates of two of the big four network, so technically, I'm not exactly forced myself, but I know others who are.
I never said to get rid of broadcast TV...
Absolutely! The question is... how long?!
They usually do... when you have no choice...
Yeah, you're absolutely right, if we want to keep afiliates, we need to open up the market so that we can get better ones, and they have to compete. I doubt that many people would switch away, even given 3 markets in any one place, due to the size of satellite spots, and the amount of cable bandwidth, but that would be enough for the local affiliates to be pushed to do better. It's getting worse, because I have duplicates triplicates for all 5 networks (and PBS) in my area on cable, but only PBS is duplicated in HD, and DirecTV offers only CBS, NBC, and FOX, so they don't have ABC or PBS in HD. I have no clue why they don't duplicated all five, since NYC is on CONUS, and we are already in the spot for our own (Hartford-New Haven) market.
DBS, which made satellite reception trivial, wasn't available then. One could subscribe to C band but the market was so small that it really didn't hurt anyone.
I remember when the syndicated exclusivity and carriage laws hit cable. The technology wasn't as good as it is today and channels went black on the system in my town. Then the channels were dropped. I suppose it is easier not to carry a channel than to deal with which hours it should be blocked.
I believe the first distants law for satellite was put in place in 1999. The suit in Florida led up to that. The stations sued to stop carriage, congress responded by writing laws that allowed carriage in certain circumstances. Every five years the law overriding the station's and network's wishes and affiliation contracts expires - and is adjusted to meed the current situation.
Without STELA and it's predecessors the availability of OTA stations would be entirely up to the networks and stations. They would handle the situation via the courts ... suing to prevent carriage or demand "fair treatment". The law has provided a structure for the parties to meet in the middle.
And that law would interfere with the contracts already in place with the stations - especially if it extended a station's carriage outside of their normal broadcast area.
I wouldn't mind a "can carry any OTA station within it's FCC defined coverage area" law. Dealing with white areas would be a secondary issue.
Scratch the laws and you lose the carriage - unless you can get a court to rule that cable/satellite can take any signal they want without compensation. The courts ruled against that. Congress disagreed and put statutory licensing in place. Life continues.
The problem with the current system is that not only are cable and satellite under a different set of rules, but they often can't pull in out-of-market channels. Must-carry rules are fine, but cable and satellite companies should be able to pull in whatever channels they want to from other markets.
The other stupid part is that broadcast channels want money for carriage. It would be a lot harder to pull off that BS if the cable companies had the ability to just switch on a few fiber lines and get a distant network to replace the network in question, so that cable company could just stand there and tell the affiliate what they will pay them, while customers still get the network programming.
I know ABC7 was asking an absolutely insane amount of money for their programming on Cablevision, and was pumping out a bunch of BS about Cablevision at the same time.
The other thing is that the cable/SAT/telco companies paying for OTA coverage is just absurd. Anything OTA should be free for the companies to re-transmit. There are a few problems with charging for OTA content. The most obvious is that it is free OTA, so it should be free on pay service. However, the next issue is that this model is completely backwards, as the cable, satellite, and telco companies are paying for physical plant infrastructure, part of which is being used to re-transmit the local channels, so that the local channels can collect advertising revenue. Thus, if anything, the locals should pay the pay tv providers for distribution, just like it costs money to keep a 1300' guyed wire tower up in the air with megawatt-plus transmitters blasting RF energy out over civilization.