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Are broadcast networks needed? (spin off conversation)


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#81 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:04 AM

Then satellite companies (I believe cablers as well) must contract for that programming in the SV areas.

Cable companies MUST consider those SV channels as locals within the quota of channels required. (Cable companies have a quota for local stations based on the total number of channels on their system. Once they reach that quota they don't have to add any more locals. Once they run out of local channels to add they don't have to add any more. Being on the SV list makes the channel a required add - or at least an attempted add due to retrans consent - as long as the quota has not been met. Most cable systems are big enough that their quota is hard to meet.)

Satellite companies are not required to carry SV stations. They are entirely optional. (Satellite companies have a "carry one carry all" rule for locals instead of a quota. Regardless of the size of the system if they provide any locals in a market using the statutory license they would have to provide all locals in that market - within the retrans consent/must carry restrictions.)

There is a path Dish Network must follow to get back to retransmitting SV stations.

The path is very simple ... light them up. STELA moved Significantly Viewed stations from the statutory license for distants to the statutory license for locals. Since the 2006 injunction against DISH only blocks use of the distants statutory license DISH can now (immediately) add SVs under the locals statutory license.

As a side note: The 2006 injunction only prevents DISH from using the statutory license to carry distants. Networks and stations were and are still free to negotiate carriage without using the statutory license.

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#82 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 11:31 AM

However, I believe that the satellite carrier must first negotiate retransmission consent with the SV station before adding the SV station. In addition, if a local station does not desire a SV station to be carried, the local may negotiate during its next found of negotiations to have the SV station removed. This would be likely to occur when a local and a SV are affiliates of the same network, for example.

#83 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 02:58 PM

However, I believe that the satellite carrier must first negotiate retransmission consent with the SV station before adding the SV station.

Correct under 47 USC § 335(B)(1)(A). "No cable system or other multichannel video programming distributor shall retransmit the signal of a broadcasting station, or any part thereof, except— (A) with the express authority of the originating station;"

The other parts of (B)(1) do not apply as the refer to section 534 for cable and section 338 for local-into-local, not section 340 where permission to carry Significantly Viewed on satellite is conferred. (Section 340(d)(2) specifically states that Section 335(B)(1) rights are not affected.)

In addition, if a local station does not desire a SV station to be carried, the local may negotiate during its next found of negotiations to have the SV station removed. This would be likely to occur when a local and a SV are affiliates of the same network, for example.

Stations can ask for anything ... what they get is up for negotiation.

#84 OFFLINE   kenglish

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 08:56 AM

The same logic that says the networks could do without local affiliates would indicate that WalMart could eliminate their local stores and just go all internet.

They might be able to do it, and it might save money, but it would cut out a lot of their customer base.

#85 OFFLINE   bidger

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:35 AM

The same logic that says the networks could do without local affiliates would indicate that WalMart could eliminate their local stores and just go all internet.

They might be able to do it, and it might save money, but it would cut out a lot of their customer base.


Difference is you don't have to go to a brick-and-mortar retailer every time you want to watch broadcast networks.

If I could get all the networks in HD out of NYC (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, My9, and PBS) from DirecTV for ~ $12.50/mo., I'd do it. I have an antenna and I'm not terribly impressed by what I see. The local NBC is terrible for Sports.
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#86 OFFLINE   Paul Secic

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 09:24 AM

Difference is you don't have to go to a brick-and-mortar retailer every time you want to watch broadcast networks.

If I could get all the networks in HD out of NYC (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, My9, and PBS) from DirecTV for ~ $12.50/mo., I'd do it. I have an antenna and I'm not terribly impressed by what I see. The local NBC is terrible for Sports.


Local newscasts have lousy news. Our ABC station doesn't do sports in the mornings.

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#87 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 11:21 AM

Local newscasts have lousy news. Our ABC station doesn't do sports in the mornings.


Those that do sports in the morning are many times just playing a clip recorded the night before.

Beyond all the discussion of markets and laws governing carriage, many people want stations from other parts of the country because they, in a sense, want to feel that they are in that part of the country. They want to watch the news from places they used to live, or places they would like to live, or places they visit. Local news across the country varies in quality, and, even if local coverage is great, if I'm interested in a city 500 or a thousand miles away, I'm not going to like the local coverage where I am.

After watching the news, they'd like to watch the sports events in the distant city, then drift into the network programs. It just makes some people feel more comfortable to watch stations from another area.

Then, of course, there are those who want to receive their programs three hours early. Anyone on the west coast who receives an east coast station will be reluctant to give it up, just because of the convenience of having the option of watching programs three hours early.

I know my statement has nothing to do with the law governing what stations will be carried where. But the desires of viewers is what this discussion really comes down to. Granted, most viewers just want their local stations. But there is a significant minority of viewers who want to watch stations from distant cities.

Edited by runner861, 05 August 2010 - 05:46 PM.


#88 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 10:26 AM

I could go into a long diatribe about this, but the short version is...

Beyond all the discussion of markets and laws governing carriage, many people want stations from other parts of the country because they, in a sense, want to feel that they are in that part of the country.

And that is 100 percent counter to how Congress and the FCC have setup the broadcasting industry. Terrestrial broadcasters must serve their city of license and the general area. So until one can get Congress and the FCC to believe that localism should no longer exist, it is Don Quixote fighting windmills. Contrary to popular belief, it would be a large paradigm shift and an even larger lobbying fight to get St. Louis locals in Tampa.

#89 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 12:00 PM

And that is 100 percent counter to how Congress and the FCC have setup the broadcasting industry. Terrestrial broadcasters must serve their city of license and the general area.


But look at the shifts that have been made in spite of this setup. First there was cable and the ability to watch other markets independent stations. As a kid we got WGN, WTBS (and whatever it was before that) and WXIX (Cincinnati) via the local cableco. These channels were local broadcast channels, they just didn't have a network affiliation. How was this different than being able to watch an ABC station from Chicago, Atlanta or Cincinnati? I knew most of the names of carpet companies in Chicago as I watched their local commercials.

Then along came cable channels. We were no longer forced to rely on 3, now 4, main channels for our news or entertainment. Now entire series programming that would have been on the big 4 are now on any number of cable channels.

So there are now 4 channels/networks that we have to watch via the government mandated provider. How much longer are those 4 channels going to survive against the dedicated channels? The old money maker, the local/national news, are losing viewers at alarming rates and they have no answer. The networks have clung to this idea that they are protected and have not changed in the face of the changing broadcasting landscape.

To answer your question, do I think Congress and the FCC will do anything? No. But one day they will wake up and there will be half the broadcast stations that were there a few years ago and they will wonder what happened.

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#90 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 06:47 PM

I could go into a long diatribe about this, but the short version is...And that is 100 percent counter to how Congress and the FCC have setup the broadcasting industry. Terrestrial broadcasters must serve their city of license and the general area. So until one can get Congress and the FCC to believe that localism should no longer exist, it is Don Quixote fighting windmills. Contrary to popular belief, it would be a large paradigm shift and an even larger lobbying fight to get St. Louis locals in Tampa.

The FCC has their goals for "localism" but they are not the ones who divided the country into markets for the purpose of distributing broadcast network programming. The FCC wants OTA broadcasters to provide local content - the FCC isn't requiring the big networks to use local OTA feeds - that is their choice.

It is the networks that worked out the affiliate model. This was not and is not imposed by the government. The government supports the model and protects networks and local broadcasters from having their signals used outside of the affiliate model they have chosen to participate in but there is no law or government policy that would prevent a network from bypassing their affiliates via cable or satellite.

As a kid we got WGN, WTBS (and whatever it was before that) and WXIX (Cincinnati) via the local cableco. These channels were local broadcast channels, they just didn't have a network affiliation. How was this different than being able to watch an ABC station from Chicago, Atlanta or Cincinnati?

Those local broadcast stations didn't sign a market exclusive affiliation deal with the ABC network. The ABC affiliates and O&Os have signed a market exclusive deal. As good as WLS Chicago is, they have a private contract that agrees not to provide ABC programming to people in Atlanta or Cincinnati.

So there are now 4 channels/networks that we have to watch via the government mandated provider. How much longer are those 4 channels going to survive against the dedicated channels?

Years. Decades. However long the networks involved wish to survive.

Don't forget that all four major networks have cable channels. All four could pull all of their "good" programming off of OTA networks and place them on any of their cable networks. They have not done so because the network affiliate model still works.

To answer your question, do I think Congress and the FCC will do anything? No. But one day they will wake up and there will be half the broadcast stations that were there a few years ago and they will wonder what happened.

Despite calls for localism the current push from the FCC is to shut down OTA broadcast and sell the bandwidth to wireless providers. Having half the broadcast stations would just mean more bandwidth to sell. :(

#91 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 07:55 AM

The old money maker, the local/national news, are losing viewers at alarming rates and they have no answer. The networks have clung to this idea that they are protected and have not changed in the face of the changing broadcasting landscape.

But it is the same with any business: a cycle. The all-powerful networks of 20 years ago are not the moneymakers the cable channels are.

And the affiliates still each generally receive more ratings than their cable-distributed counterparts, but that gap has been lessened over the past decade.

It is the networks that worked out the affiliate model. This was not and is not imposed by the government. The government supports the model and protects networks and local broadcasters from having their signals used outside of the affiliate model they have chosen to participate in but there is no law or government policy that would prevent a network from bypassing their affiliates via cable or satellite.

But notice I didn't mention anything about networks. My issue was with the theory that "people want stations from other parts of the country because they, in a sense, want to feel that they are in that part of the country." That is the opposite of localism. And it only runs on an assumption: a station is transmitting, and therefore, wants to be carried nationally...

As a kid we got WGN, WTBS (and whatever it was before that) and WXIX (Cincinnati) via the local cableco. These channels were local broadcast channels, they just didn't have a network affiliation. How was this different than being able to watch an ABC station from Chicago, Atlanta or Cincinnati?

Because this is how Ted Turner made his money. He bought the rights to programming for his Channel 17 in Atlanta, then uplinked and sold it for national distribution. Welcome to the birth of superstations!

And notice that none of these were network channels. Their contracts prevented the affiliates to actively resell their programming.

Despite calls for localism the current push from the FCC is to shut down OTA broadcast and sell the bandwidth to wireless providers. Having half the broadcast stations would just mean more bandwidth to sell.

Sure, but having half the broadcast stations just means a reduction in the amount of frequencies. It no longer means a reduction in the amount of broadcast stations.

#92 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 11:02 AM

My issue was with the theory that "people want stations from other parts of the country because they, in a sense, want to feel that they are in that part of the country." That is the opposite of localism.

For the people who honestly want stations from another part of the country for the local content it is still localism - just displaced localism. But for too many the desire for another market isn't a desire for the local content that station carries - it is a desire to circumvent the network's affiliate distribution.

Sure, but having half the broadcast stations just means a reduction in the amount of frequencies. It no longer means a reduction in the amount of broadcast stations.

It presents a limit to the number of broadcast stations. At the moment there is room (unassigned) for new full power DTV stations. Markets that have been limited due to a lack of bandwidth first due to the nature of NTSC TV interference avoidance and then by the multiple frequency transitions now could add additional stations --- in full power with multiple subcarriers --- instead of offering less than today's level of service with no room for expansion. A reduction in bandwidth is a reduction in service.

#93 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 02:43 PM

I remember the good old days back in the 1970s and 1980s when cable companies carried local stations and distant stations, both independents and locals. I am not sure what exactly the state of the law was at the time. However, I recall that these stations duplicated each other's programming and the viewer got a choice about what time to watch the programming. Did you want to watch "Dinah" at 3:00 on the local, or would it be easier for you to start watching at 3:30 on the distant? Did you want to watch the national news at 5:30 or at 7:00? Did you want to watch the local news from Salinas, or did you prefer San Luis Obispo or San Francisco or Los Angeles local news? Generally the network prime-time programming was carried simultaneously across the local and distant stations. Sometimes the distant station would be blacked out during prime time, sometimes not.

Gosh, cable was a different world back then. Like I said, I'm not sure of the laws and regulations that applied to cable back then, but I know that the local stations and the small-market stations survived. The sky didn't fall.

In fact, ABC was operating two ABC affiliates in the same market. One was in San Francisco (KGO) and one was in San Jose (KNTV). Then KSBW, the NBC affiliate in Salinas, moved its transmitter north toward San Jose in an effort to pick up Bay Area viewers and compete directly with KRON, the NBC affiliate in the Bay Area. Things were great. Stations were actually competing for viewers, instead of sitting in their protected cocoons like they are now. Those days are gone forever.

Edited by runner861, 16 August 2010 - 08:23 PM.


#94 OFFLINE   Herdfan

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 03:49 PM

But for too many the desire for another market isn't a desire for the local content that station carries - it is a desire to circumvent the network's affiliate distribution.


I would not agree that circumventing the network's affiliate agreements is the main desire, but instead an unintended consequence.

In my case, we had a CBS station that drug its feet in transitioning to HD. The ABC and FOX affiliates were also late to the table, but they had a legitimate excuse. (Their 1400' tower crashed to the ground during an ice storm). But the end result was the same for my market: only NBC in HD. So the desire of the HD addicts was to be able to get the NY DNS stations. This was because of the desire for HD, not to circumvent any affiliate agreements.

Another desire would be sports. My local CBS affiliate airs almost nothing but the Bengals, Browns and Steelers. FOX is not much better, but at least Washington plays better teams. I do have an option here with ST, but that is because I made a choice of providers and am willing to pay for it. But otherwise I would be stuck with watching what station decides I want to see.

And there are always stories of affiliates prempting networks shows for local stuff.

All of these are reasons that people might want out-of-market networks. Circumventing agreements is just an unintended consequnce.

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#95 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 08:34 PM

Back in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, there were microwave systems relaying local stations up and down the great state of California. These microwave systems still exist and are operational today, although there are not as many distant stations on California cable systems. However, there are still a few.

I wonder if the local stations lost viewers or gained viewers because of the distant stations competing head on with the local stations. I think that the local stations probably gained viewers. The presence of distant stations on the cable attracted customers (prior to the days of CNN, ESPN, TBS, and other satellite stations). Cable back then was pretty much locals and distants.

Some customers were relying on rooftop antenna or rabbit ears were not getting good reception, or were missing some stations. When these viewers decided to get cable, attracted by the distant stations, they also got reliable reception of the local stations.

Alas, if only the networks, the locals, the NAB, and Congress could see the truth--allowing distant networks to be freely available on cable and satellite will only strengthen the local stations and increase the number of viewers of network programming.

Edited by runner861, 16 August 2010 - 08:45 PM.


#96 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 09:15 PM

So the desire of the HD addicts was to be able to get the NY DNS stations.

The core desire is network content in higher definition ... not really caring where it came from ... not really wanting NY programming over their local stations. These people would be just as happy if their local station would do the upgrades.

You're right that the circumventing of the affiliate agreements is not the intention of the viewer ... but most don't know about those agreements so they can form no intent. Those that know about the agreements may simply not care. They never signed a limiting affiliation agreement ... to them it is just another roadblock in getting the content they want.

National content that they can't have because of distribution agreements with a local distributor that doesn't fulfill their needs. If they are looking for an out of market sports team they need to sign up for the appropriate out of market sports subscription. Circumventing distribution contracts is not the answer.

#97 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 06:58 PM

Gosh, cable was a different world back then. Like I said, I'm not sure of the laws and regulations that applied to cable back then, but I know that the local stations and the small-market stations survived. The sky didn't fall.

Sure, but it is quite like the point I made earlier: times change, businesses evolve. And now that OTA Networks are not as valued as many of the higher-priced cable channels, it has played out that the OTA Networks are in a fight for their lives.

Alas, if only the networks, the locals, the NAB, and Congress could see the truth--allowing distant networks to be freely available on cable and satellite will only strengthen the local stations and increase the number of viewers of network programming.

It cannot possibly strengthen local stations. It may make many local channels go bankrupt. So it would be like strengthening GM by dumping 1100 dealerships.

#98 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:33 PM

Sure, but it is quite like the point I made earlier: times change, businesses evolve. And now that OTA Networks are not as valued as many of the higher-priced cable channels, it has played out that the OTA Networks are in a fight for their lives.It cannot possibly strengthen local stations. It may make many local channels go bankrupt. So it would be like strengthening GM by dumping 1100 dealerships.


You may be right. That is the argument that the NAB has gotten Congress to follow.

However, my argument is two-fold: First, it is not a huge shift to allow distant network and independent stations to be imported into other markets. It was like that until a relatively few years ago. The NAB decided to get Congress to cut it off. But I grew up on cable, and distant stations were what made it really appealing.

Second, the availabilty of distant network and independent stations on cable and satellite will attract additional subscribers. These subscribers will occasionally watch the distant stations. However, time and time again, viewers will generally choose the local stations. This will increase local station viewership. For the occasional viewer who finds the timing on the distant network station more appealing, that increases the exposure of the network programming to a viewer who would otherwise probably not watch it.

There is at least a credible argument that, as long as local stations are carried, the local stations can benefit by the addition of distant stations. If it worked in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and even the earlier 1990s, I don't see why it can't work today.

#99 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 10:40 PM

Second, the availabilty of distant network and independent stations on cable and satellite will attract additional subscribers. These subscribers will occasionally watch the distant stations. However, time and time again, viewers will generally choose the local stations. This will increase local station viewership. For the occasional viewer who finds the timing on the distant network station more appealing, that increases the exposure of the network programming to a viewer who would otherwise probably not watch it.

They will? Is there a source for this or is this speculation that the availability of distants generates more local viewership?

#100 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 06:19 AM

Second, the availabilty of distant network and independent stations on cable and satellite will attract additional subscribers.

The market for pay-TV is at 85 percent of the households in the United States. How many more people will signup to cable or satellite because of the availability of distant stations? I'd be surprised if it is more than 1 percent, as the 85 percent penetration rate has been pretty constant for the past 10+ years.

These subscribers will occasionally watch the distant stations. However, time and time again, viewers will generally choose the local stations. This will increase local station viewership.

Because maybe an increase of ONE percent of the nation's households would now have increased viewership, but now a choice has been given to the entire subscriber base to watch any and every distant station?

I'm sorry. Perhaps you realize that KGO actually paid KNTV to remove their ABC affiliation. Perhaps NBC, which wanted to purchase its own affiliate and run it in the San Francisco market, was rebuffed in auction by Young Broadcasting, and then NBC simply destroyed KRON and Young Broadcasting. Where NBC offered almost $800 million for that station back in the early 2000's, the station is now worth about $25-50 million. The equipment is still the same, which means the only reason that station was worth so much more was its NBC affiliation and its estimated viewership.

There is at least a credible argument that, as long as local stations are carried, the local stations can benefit by the addition of distant stations. If it worked in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and even the earlier 1990s, I don't see why it can't work today.

It worked, but there was always the guise of localism. And now more than ever, the issue is still about those pesky network-affiliate contracts.

And pay attention to this one: It is your belief that cable or satellite will get numerous new subscribers if distant stations are allowed. Why? It is obvious to me that you believe cable and satellite have value if it can offer many distant stations. Which means by inference you believe the distant stations have value based on the programming they provide. Couple that with your belief that there shouldn't be any retransmission fees, and the reality is you want the deck stacked in favor of satellite and cable, while those wonderful stations you want on satellite and cable receive nothing. Sounds like all the benefits go to cable and satellite, carrying but not paying for programming.

That is not evolution but regression to the same model that started the rise of cable TV, which was rejected by most parties in 1992. It cannot go back to the way it once was; Pandora's box has been open way too long and is now impossible to close, especially when the science of viewership has increased two-fold and network viewership has decreased two-fold. The local broadcasters are fighting for every advantage they can get.

Edited by Greg Bimson, 18 August 2010 - 06:42 AM.





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