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.