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NAB says it's time to stop selling distant signals


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73 replies to this topic

#21 OFFLINE   tampa8

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:53 AM

Well he is not exactly the fisrt person to report the pending death of the superstations. IT used to happen quite frequently and I suppose this report could be considered overdue.


I'm with you, how many times over the years were there reports the Superstations were going to be ended. It's been awhile so I guess it's time to say it again, keep the tradition going.

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#22 OFFLINE   kenglish

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:37 AM

My wife would never stand for that. She likes being able to record 3 programs simultaneously.


There are OTA DVR's available.

#23 OFFLINE   cj9788

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:59 PM

Gosh how I miss the days when E* flagrantly disregarded the law and allowed us to subscribe to all four distant network cities. Those were the days my friend. It is all political and those politicians ALWAYS side with the NAB. I love my AAD distants and will enjoy having them while I can. It is only a matter of time before they are legislated into oblivion.

#24 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:32 PM

I'm with you, how many times over the years were there reports the Superstations were going to be ended. It's been awhile so I guess it's time to say it again, keep the tradition going.

There is a grain of truth in the reports. The authorization that allows the carriage of superstations expires every five years. If not extended superstations will go away. They are also not a required offering ... the law permits satellite carriers to carry superstations, it does not require the carriage. At some point the business decision may be made to remove superstations from the system.

Personally, I don't mind superstations being on the system but they don't provide any CW programming that I do not already have via a local channel and superstations are not provided in HD. I don't see the benefit in having the feeds. For markets without a CW station they could be helpful ... but DISH also has the special CW feeds (channels 251, 252 and 254 moving to 916, 918 and 919) that could be used in those markets where the network is needed. Having them is doing no harm ... but they would be better in HD.

#25 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

Gosh how I miss the days when E* flagrantly disregarded the law and allowed us to subscribe to all four distant network cities. Those were the days my friend. It is all political and those politicians ALWAYS side with the NAB. I love my AAD distants and will enjoy having them while I can. It is only a matter of time before they are legislated into oblivion.

Yep ... the good old days when Echostar fought for years in court while breaking the law.

One thing to note about AAD. At the time it was created, DISH leased an entire transponder to AAD for them to use for their service. As it was explained in court documents, NPS was to build their own uplink and take care of their own channels. DISH was to provide the uplink for a few months while NPS got set up.

With that type of setup I would not expect any non-AAD channels on their transponder. They had an advertising channel to promote AAD channels that was open to all ... and eventually started advertising other products on that channel. That channel has become The Pursuit Channel (and is also available via DISH on an Eastern Arc feed).

But now SD channels 164 Fuse, 358 Sundance, 413 Pac-12 and 873 BEIN2 are available to DISH customers (sold by DISH) on the AAD transponder. There are two other DISH channels uplinked on that transponder. It seems the line has been blurred between leasing an entire transponder to AAD for their independent service and transmitting 8 or 9 channels for AAD.

Perhaps DISH is leasing back the space they are using for their six channels - but it strikes me as odd that DISH has channels they sell on a transponder leased to another company.

#26 OFFLINE   ub1934

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

Gosh how I miss the days when E* flagrantly disregarded the law and allowed us to subscribe to all four distant network cities. Those were the days my friend. It is all political and those politicians ALWAYS side with the NAB. I love my AAD distants and will enjoy having them while I can. It is only a matter of time before they are legislated into oblivion.


All this brings one back to the days of C/KU BUDs when you could get both East & West coast feeds of all the networks + HBO & all the superstations and all the in the clear wild feeds that were on the KU band :)

#27 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:22 PM

That might be true. But it does not change the fact that article is about distant nets and the NAB has not challenged the carriage of superstations. They need to revisit STELA AS a whole. The article discusses opposition to one provison that requires e authorization. It simply does not discuss the other and the thread has possibly created confusion about what the NAB concerns were.

No, the original poster was exactly correct.

What the NAB wants is to eliminate the statutory licensing and payment regime, period. They want everything covered by retrans consent.

The grandfathered “superstations” are exempt from retrans consent, just like distant nets, and the NAB does not like that.

Furthermore, the supers are a relatively minor part of the licensing scheme. Demand for ABC/CBS/FOX/NBC is far greater than demand for supers ever was or ever will be. As far as I know, Dish is the only company still offering supers and they are certainly not an integral part of Dish’s business model.

What this means is that if/when Congress determines that the statutory licensing and payment regime is no longer necessary to ensure universal access to ABC/CBS/FOX/NBC, the supers are toast. The idea that Congress would maintain the statutory payment bureaucracy simply to allow Dish to continue to sell five grandfathered supers is absurd. Supers will probably be allowed as long as distant nets are allowed, but definitely not longer.

So…..

The $64K question is whether or not the statutory regime is still necessary for the major nets.

Right now, Dish and Direct depend on the distant license to provide network service in short markets, i.e. those in which no full power station carries one or more of the big 4 nets. The NAB’s argument is that with the advent of digital subchannels, even a single broadcast station could potentially provide all four networks. Coverage is thus simply a matter of negotiating the necessary affiliation agreements rather than supporting new broadcasters in the market, and so the NAB argues that the market should be allowed to work.

But this is a testable/quantifiable proposition. One can look at the 200+ DMAs, count how many of them are short and by how many major networks, and then determine whether or not there is sufficient unused subchannel capacity to provide the missing service. If the NAB can produce a survey that convinces Congress that such a solution is workable, they may prevail.

But if the NAB cannot demonstrate this, they will almost certainly fail. The change in the latest revision of the law that allowed the distant license to apply to the entirety of short markets, irrespective of grade B or digital contour coverage from out of market stations, was a major improvement that Congress is highly unlikely to roll back in the absence of a demonstrably workable alternative.

Finally, even if the NAB does prevail, it is unlikely that Congress would simply terminate the statutory license in a way that would require existing customers to lose service immediately, as that could give voters a reason to vote against an incumbent. More likely, Congress would disallow new service under the distant license after a certain date, but grandfather existing customers for some years after that.

And again, however they handle distant nets, supers will probably receive the same treatment. So if, for example, new distant service is disallowed after a certain date, new super subs will probably be disallowed after the same date, and existing super subs will probably be grandfathered for as long as, but not longer than, existing distant subs.

Edited by joblo, 17 February 2013 - 11:20 PM.
corrected typo


#28 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:59 PM

Right now, Dish and Direct depend on the distant license to provide network service in short markets, i.e. those in which no full power station carries one or more of the big 4 nets.

The station carrying a network does not have to be full power. It can be a low power station or a subchannel. My local ABC is on a low power station (in HD and carried by DISH and DirecTV). There are several markets that have networks as subchannels carried on DISH and DirecTV.

The presence of a network on a subchannel (whether carried or not) already interferes with carriage of distants of that network. We are already at the point where all the networks need to do is negotiate carriage in short markets.

One can look at the 200+ DMAs, count how many of them are short and by how many major networks, and then determine whether or not there is sufficient unused subchannel capacity to provide the missing service. If the NAB can produce a survey that convinces Congress that such a solution is workable, they may prevail.

Not hard to do. There are few markets (single commercial station markets such as Lafayette Indiana come to mind) where all four major networks could not find a home somewhere.

Finally, even if the NAB does prevail, it is unlikely that Congress would simply terminate the statutory license in a way that would require existing customers to lose service immediately, as that could give voters a reason to vote against an incumbent. More likely, Congress would disallow new service under the distant license after a certain date, but grandfather existing customers for some years after that.

The decision is likely to be made AFTER the 2014 election ... whether it is immediate (allowing the law to expire as scheduled) or a one year extension the people making the decision would have already faced their re-election.

#29 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:29 AM

The station carrying a network does not have to be full power. It can be a low power station or a subchannel. My local ABC is on a low power station (in HD and carried by DISH and DirecTV).

It’s been a while since I looked at this, but my recollection is that for a household to be considered “served”, it must receive a stream from a station eligible for must-carry, which means subchannels of full power stations would constitute “service” but low power signals would not, for purposes of DNS. Low power stations can be carried, however, even if not required, and carriage of such a station pursuant to retrans consent would probably carry a contractual prohibition against importing a distant signal of the same net, even if the law allowed it.

We are already at the point where all the networks need to do is negotiate carriage in short markets.

Yes, that’s what the NAB would argue, I’m sure, but I think the real question is whether or not they will in most cases. There are a lot of OTA nets out there now competing for subchannel space, and it’s not obvious to me that using subchannels to carry a second, third, or fourth major net will always be the most profitable option.

I think the proof is in what the market is actually doing, and I haven’t surveyed that.

The decision is likely to be made AFTER the 2014 election ... whether it is immediate (allowing the law to expire as scheduled) or a one year extension the people making the decision would have already faced their re-election.

True, and that might make a difference, especially for new subs. But I still think it’s unlikely that the effect on existing subs would be immediate. Congress has gone out of its way to grandfather existing subs through several revisions of the law now, and I see no reason to think that will change this time around.

Finally, I don’t see Congress passing a law that would effectively put a law-abiding company out of business on short notice, so if AAD is still operating at the end of 2014, and the law isn’t finalized until after the 2014 election, I would expect AAD to at least get another year for its existing subs.

#30 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:56 AM

I think the proof is in what the market is actually doing, and I haven’t surveyed that.

This page might help. It is not every station and subchannel in the country, just the ones DISH carries. But if you look through you can see what is out there.
http://uplink.jamesl.../locallist.html

Albany GA's WALB is an example of a two network station, NBC on -01 and ABC on -02 (both in HD and carried).
Alexandria LA's KALB is NBC -01 and CBS -02.
Alpena MI's WBKB is CBS -01 and FOX -02.
As one looks through the list one can see other pairings.

With low power stations using regular call letters it is hard to identify which ones are LP/CA stations, and I probably have a few networks wrong, but it is a start.

Finally, I don’t see Congress passing a law that would effectively put a law-abiding company out of business on short notice, so if AAD is still operating at the end of 2014, and the law isn’t finalized until after the 2014 election, I would expect AAD to at least get another year for its existing subs.

I suppose one could say they have notice now and have had it since 2009. There is no guarantee that the expiration of the permission they rely on to operate will be extended. It would be nice to give them a firm "go out of business" notice but assuming that they will get an extension is their risk.

#31 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 01:24 AM

Very nice list, James! Thanks for the reference.

But I don’t have the time, or at this point, necessarily even the interest, to do the count myself. I was just pointing out what I thought the criteria might be.

For instance, if by mid-2014, there are half a dozen or fewer short markets, and none short more than one major net, then I would say the NAB has a strong case.

If, otoh, there still are a dozen to two dozen short markets, and several of them short more than one major, five years after the big transition date, one could argue that the market may never provide them.

Of course, other people’s thresholds may vary.

Also, by mid-2014 we should know more about whether there will be a big band repack and what impact that may have.

Btw, does Direct provide locals in all DMAs now, like Dish, at least in SD? For completeness, one would need a list of what they carry, as well.

And should I take it you don’t disagree with my main point, that supers are unlikely to outlast DNS? (Which is how this thread started…)

#32 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:43 AM

Very nice list, James! Thanks for the reference.

But I don’t have the time, or at this point, necessarily even the interest, to do the count myself. I was just pointing out what I thought the criteria might be.

Just a quick look ... there are very few markets relying on out of market stations (20? Which is about 10% of the markets). There were more a few years ago.

Btw, does Direct provide locals in all DMAs now, like Dish, at least in SD? For completeness, one would need a list of what they carry, as well.

Last I looked there were still a few markets missing ... which means DirecTV could offer distants with waivers or in the white areas within those markets.

And should I take it you don’t disagree with my main point, that supers are unlikely to outlast DNS? (Which is how this thread started…)

Supers are at risk along with DNS ... but I believe the main target is on the big network stations. If the supers are not seen as a threat they could outlive distants. But it would be just as easy to let them expire with the distants as to extend them and let the distants die.

#33 OFFLINE   scottchez

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:46 AM

Proposed solution- let everyone buy out of market locals but charge a lot more and pass the money to the local stations in the Local DMA to make then very happy for the missing ad dollars. It's all about the profit. Say $10 a month per city outside your market. In other words ala carte.
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#34 OFFLINE   kenglish

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 11:00 AM

Proposed solution- let everyone buy out of market locals but charge a lot more and pass the money to the local stations in the Local DMA to make then very happy for the missing ad dollars. It's all about the profit. Say $10 a month per city outside your market. In other words ala carte.


It would need to be several hundred dollars.....your eyeballs are worth a lot of money to sponsors. And, there would quickly reach a point where the station's advertising worth would be nil. There'd be no point in advertisers buying spots at all.

You can find local news from any market on the internet, from TV, radio and newspapers.
If the reason for wanting out-of-market stations is quality issues, lets just get the broadcasters to self-enforce some quality standards. This can be done via the NAB, or the FCC and the networks can step in and do it.

#35 OFFLINE   JWKessler

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:08 PM

[quote name='kc1ih'][quote name='nmetro']
If you watch KUSA in Denver, their newscast is no different that the one at WUSA in Washington DC (both owned by Gannett).

That's nonsense. Do you really think a station in DC will tell you what is happening in the Colorado legislature or the Denver city council? If you think that stuff is unimportant just wait till you get your tax bill.[/QUOTE]

The local NBC station in Binghamton, NY is actually the Elmira station, sent out on channel 34-2 along with Binghamton's ABC station on 34-1. The ABC affialiate in Binghamton fired its popular news team a few years ago and carries the Elmira news now. They claim to cover stories from both cities, but I won't watch it. They bill themselves as "News Channel 34" but on weekends they even preempt the network news and air infomercials or church services. These stations do not serve the local community well.

#36 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:49 PM

And, there would quickly reach a point where the station's advertising worth would be nil. There'd be no point in advertisers buying spots at all.


Ooh, Ooh, where do I sign up for that one?!? :grin:

#37 OFFLINE   dishrich

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:31 PM

All this brings one back to the days of C/KU BUDs when you could get both East & West coast feeds of all the networks + HBO & all the superstations and all the in the clear wild feeds that were on the KU band :)


You AIN'T a kidding there - those WERE the TV days! :hurah:
I remember in the heyday of C-band, you could sub to the following network/SS feeds: (I had them all; the price of these back then was pretty cheap)
- Primetime 24 uplinked E & W feeds of ABC, CBS & NBC; only an E feed of FOX
- Netlink uplinked ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, KRMA-PBS & KWGN all out of Denver, CO (the "Denver 5" + FOX - don't ask me why they didn't just call it the Denver 6... :confused: ) - they also had an "Atlantic 3" set of E feeds of ABC, CBS & NBC
- All the SS's E* has today

Something not everyone knows about - besides the "superstation feed" of WGN (America) we know of today, Netlink ALSO uplinked the actual OTA feed of WGN as well w/NO syndex substitutions; it was on the same bird as the Denver stations. (F1 IIRC)
They did this presumably so they did NOT have to pay the provider of the WGN SS feed. I believe the feed only lasted a couple years; when Netlink took it down, they then offered SS WGN to their subs.

#38 OFFLINE   joetex

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:58 PM

Are there really that many viewers interested in distant networks for the major networks to worry about losing that many viewers from their local networks? I enjoy watching an occasional out of town newscast with my AAD from Frisco more for the novelty of doing so but that's about it. I can't imagine why the big four are concerned over this. With the proliferation of DVRs, there is less of a need to time shift and utilize an out of town network.

In fact, when I upgraded to HD a few months ago, my installer had never even heard of AAD and had to go back up on the roof to add a wing dish to the new black one that he put in.

#39 OFFLINE   sregener

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 03:44 AM

Are there really that many viewers interested in distant networks for the major networks to worry about losing that many viewers from their local networks?


Yes. Consider Rochester, MN. It is just outside a major media market: Minneapolis/St. Paul. Yet its viewers cannot receive that market via satellite because there are local stations. The quality of the stations is representative of their 150+ market status. It's not awful, but the Minneapolis/St. Paul market has more and better stations. Cable provides 4 channels from that market (none in HD), but satellite provides none.

Also consider the distant sports fan. I would have loved to get the Philadelphia locals for Phillies/Eagles coverage, rather than paying for MLB Extra Innings and NFL Sunday Ticket. Those "out-of-market" packages are enormously successful and profitable. But much of that revenue would disappear if people could just subscribe to the local stations for the city they want to follow.

#40 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:03 PM

The distant sports fans are one reason to PREVENT distants from continuing. The sports leagues can sell their "out of market" sports packages to people who have transplanted. If one could keep their home market stations the sports leagues would lose money. (Not go broke or have a negative balance sheet ... just make less money than they would.)

The current distants law is restrictive enough to make it difficult to receive feeds if one has a local station. Opening up the law to allow for more distants is a non-starter. Opening up the law to allow for equal carriage ... satellite being able to carry the same stations cable carries in an area ... that is a possibility.




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