You've forgotten the fourth one... the networks themselves. Look, everyone can argue unti they are blue in the face. The reality is that the affiliate model is the way the networks want to operate. And all between the networks, the affilates, the rebroadcasters, and the mission of terrestrial broadcasting according to Congress and the FCC, it is inertia that must be overcome in order to defeat the network/affiliate model. Anyone can gripe about it, but it is the cold, hard fact. Now, for example, say NBC becomes a "cable network". How much do you think your cable bill will rise? After all, NBC gets better ratings than the ESPN suite, and carriers are paying upwards of $3 per month per subscriber for ESPN. I can easily imagine NBC being worth $5 a month per subscriber. Oops. This is one of those cause-and-effect questions everyone has forgotten... Uh, the protection received is from the network and the syndicator, not the government. People need to wrap their heads around that idea.