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


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24 replies to this topic

#21 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:00 PM

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.

Sort of. Stations can sell the the programming they broadcast provided they own the copyright. So the problem is that they don't own the programming from the network and they don't own the syndicated programming, and some of the programming on newscasts is copyrighted by another group, so it is all about clearing copyrights for resale.

The government intervened back in 1988, to provide network programming to those that were truly unserved. The government intervened again in 1999 in order to promote competition with cable systems by giving the satellite companies the ability to rebroadcast local channels, just like cable systems.

Because unlike cable systems, the DBS companies had the right to pick and choose where they wanted to serve local channels, there were safeguards built in to make sure the DBS companies didn't "cherry pick". That was the entire reason to clear programming on a per market basis.

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#22 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:41 PM

I recall the situation with cable in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and very early 90s. The cable system could import a distant station. Generally, network programming that was telecast simultaneously by the local and the distant would be blacked out on the distant. However, network programming that was not telecast simultaneously and syndicated programming was allowed to pass.

Back then, a cable company usually carried the local stations and the stations from another market. There were no cable or satellite channels, so the selling point of cable was receive all the local stations with good reception and without an antenna, and then receive some other channels from out of the area.

I wonder why everyone was OK with that arrangement for decades.

#23 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 08:06 AM

I recall the situation with cable in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and very early 90s. The cable system could import a distant station. Generally, network programming that was telecast simultaneously by the local and the distant would be blacked out on the distant. However, network programming that was not telecast simultaneously and syndicated programming was allowed to pass.

Ahh, you're talking about cable importing a distant, which is different than anyone being allowed to retransmit.

Back then, a cable company usually carried the local stations and the stations from another market. There were no cable or satellite channels, so the selling point of cable was receive all the local stations with good reception and without an antenna, and then receive some other channels from out of the area.

I wonder why everyone was OK with that arrangement for decades.

I believe there were three different issues that caused this, and "everyone" wasn't pleased with the arrangement...

Content owners were sick of retransmitters making money off of the "arrangement". During the 1960's, United Artists sued cable company Fortnightly for performing a copyrighted work without permission. The case made it to the Supreme Court, where in an astounding turn of events, SCOTUS ruled that piping copyrighted television programming was NOT performing a copyrighted work, and therefore, was not a copyright violation. That was counter to ruling SCOTUS made over the past 45 years, where piping programming over anything other than an antenna was seen as a violation.

Somewhere along the way, the FCC was involved. With the ruling in hand, any cable company could retransmit any station from anywhere, and that was a recipe for anarchy. The FCC had to regulate network nonduplication and syndicated nonduplication.

Then in 1992, as cable companies were making their money off of both being a terrestrial rebroadcaster and a programming provider for non-terrestrial material, studies were completed that over half of the people in the US would expect their bill to be halved if cable did not provide the "networks" and terrestrial broadcasts, as cable in 1991 was much different than cable in 1968. Thus the Cable Act of 1992 was put into law, treating terrestrial broadcasters pretty much the same as their cable network brethren: it became pay for play.

The important issue to note here is that the cable executives stated they would never pay fees for terrestrial broadcasts. Therefore, a group such as Disney instead of demanding payment for ABC was able to launch ESPN2 in lieu of ABC-owned affiliate payments. Thus the tying of retransmission of cable and terrestrial properties began.

As an industry gets older, the end of "wild, wild west" economics end and a more predictible, sustainable economic model begins. That's why with the advent of the automobile there were actually thousands of manufacturers, but consolidation happens as the weaker die and the stronger become the only true players. By abut 1990, the networks hardly had an interest in any of the cable networks. By 2000, the networks had quite a bit of assets in cable networks.

And of course that was why the ruling for CATV in 1968, when cable was simply a terrestrial rebroadcaster, was much different than cable TV in 1991, when cable was retransmitting both terrestrial broadcasts and satellite-delivered cable networks. The business model for and offerings on wireline television were comparatively much different.

#24 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:36 AM

Then in 1992, as cable companies were making their money off of both being a terrestrial rebroadcaster and a programming provider for non-terrestrial material, studies were completed that over half of the people in the US would expect their bill to be halved if cable did not provide the "networks" and terrestrial broadcasts, as cable in 1991 was much different than cable in 1968.

I don't doubt the results of the study, but people are stupid. What they expect and what reality is are two different things. (It reminds me of the Family Feud surveys of 100 people. Not factually accurate, just public opinion.)

The pre cable channel cost of cable (just terrestrial rebroadcast) was the fee for the infrastructure. The basic cost of building a tower, installing and aiming antennas at each station, remodulating the signal to be on side by side channels and amplifying and distributing the combined signal to subscribers. Add in the overhead to pay a staff and promote the service and the cost of CATV quickly approaches the price of CATV.

Providing local channels was more than half of the cost for cable. Yet the "stupid" public don't see (or care about) costs to the cable company. Ask today and you would probably find a significant number of people who want their bill cut in half without losing channels (or losing channels a la carte). It is a loaded question. People are likely to say they want their bill cut regardless of the reason.

Then look at the satellite providers who were selling all cable channels (no terrestrial) for the price of infrastructure, overhead and carriage fees. The price didn't double when locals were added (despite the extra costs of having locals via satellite). But I'm sure the same people who wanted half off cable in 1992 would want half off satellite if they lost locals. It is the "Family Feud" survey result.

The local antenna store makes a profit on the sale of towers, antennas cabling and especially 50c connectors sold for $5. I suppose the "they are making money off of our signal" greed should apply to those sellers too? After all, no one should be able to profit from an OTA signal except the station. :rolleyes:

#25 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:46 AM

Ahh, you're talking about cable importing a distant, which is different than anyone being allowed to retransmit.I believe there were three different issues that caused this, and "everyone" wasn't pleased with the arrangement...

Content owners were sick of retransmitters making money off of the "arrangement". During the 1960's, United Artists sued cable company Fortnightly for performing a copyrighted work without permission. The case made it to the Supreme Court, where in an astounding turn of events, SCOTUS ruled that piping copyrighted television programming was NOT performing a copyrighted work, and therefore, was not a copyright violation. That was counter to ruling SCOTUS made over the past 45 years, where piping programming over anything other than an antenna was seen as a violation.

Somewhere along the way, the FCC was involved. With the ruling in hand, any cable company could retransmit any station from anywhere, and that was a recipe for anarchy. The FCC had to regulate network nonduplication and syndicated nonduplication.

Then in 1992, as cable companies were making their money off of both being a terrestrial rebroadcaster and a programming provider for non-terrestrial material, studies were completed that over half of the people in the US would expect their bill to be halved if cable did not provide the "networks" and terrestrial broadcasts, as cable in 1991 was much different than cable in 1968. Thus the Cable Act of 1992 was put into law, treating terrestrial broadcasters pretty much the same as their cable network brethren: it became pay for play.

The important issue to note here is that the cable executives stated they would never pay fees for terrestrial broadcasts. Therefore, a group such as Disney instead of demanding payment for ABC was able to launch ESPN2 in lieu of ABC-owned affiliate payments. Thus the tying of retransmission of cable and terrestrial properties began.

As an industry gets older, the end of "wild, wild west" economics end and a more predictible, sustainable economic model begins. That's why with the advent of the automobile there were actually thousands of manufacturers, but consolidation happens as the weaker die and the stronger become the only true players. By abut 1990, the networks hardly had an interest in any of the cable networks. By 2000, the networks had quite a bit of assets in cable networks.

And of course that was why the ruling for CATV in 1968, when cable was simply a terrestrial rebroadcaster, was much different than cable TV in 1991, when cable was retransmitting both terrestrial broadcasts and satellite-delivered cable networks. The business model for and offerings on wireline television were comparatively much different.


I have read Fortnightly. I don't think that it stood for the proposition that any cable system could transmit any tv station from anywhere. It dealt with a cable system receiving an OTA signal from an antenna placed in an optimum area where it could receive tv stations from up to around 82 miles away.

It really stands for the proposition that any cable system can retransmit any signal it can receive from an antenna placed in an optimum location. It doesn't appear to stand for the proposition that a cable system can retransmit a signal from a tv station received by other means, like a microwave relay system.

Yet here in California, in the 1960s, a cable system that started providing cable for Pebble Beach in the late 1950s got an idea. It set up a microwave system transmitting tv signals from Los Angeles and San Francisco up and down the coast of California. The Monterey-Salinas and Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo markets are the two markets between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The viewers in these markets reaped the benefits of the microwave relay system, and became accustomed to receiving stations from LA and SF.

If I am not mistaken, Pebble Beach was the first or second community in the United States to receive cable tv. Viewers in Monterey-Salinas and Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo did not have a full complement of local network stations, so the cable systems in those communities grew quickly and achieved very high penetration by offering stations from LA and SF.




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