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Networks Could Go Cable Only / No More Affiliates

Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by DirectMan, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. Shades228

    Shades228 DaBears

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    The uplinks are already built. The technology already exists. The only difference is that people who can't get locals now could then get the national feed and wouldn't have a "local" news but another markets news could be piped in.
     
  2. Ira Lacher

    Ira Lacher Icon

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    As long as the broadcasting lobby remains strong -- and it will -- Congress will see to it that the affiliate model won't change.
     
  3. gregjones

    gregjones Hall Of Fame

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    Again, people are largely arguing about why there is a reason not to divest local OTA. This is not the question. The question regards whether OTA should be a network afilliate.

    If OTA stations got the same carriage on satellite and cable, would it matter if they were afilliates? Right now, towns are supporting three or more TV news organizations just because there are three or more networks in that town. This is artificially inflating the amount of resources dedicated to news in small markets. We are seeing the consolidation of overpopulated print media in these same markets now.

    The markets could probably much better sustain a single OTA in most small markets with an adjacent OTA overlapping. This would provide 2-3 local channels for most viewers separate from the network programming. This consolidation (driven by the market) would be the biggest issue for most OTA stations. Comparatively, I think losing network programming would be less of an issue. As was stated, most are at or below a break-even point for network programming as is. When you consider the equipment requirements at each affiliate to support network programming, it could present a substantial cost savings.

    If you feel this is unlikely, look at small markets more closely. Many are already sharing news teams between separate stations. Many markets have CW stations only as digital subchannels as it is.

    For the networks there is a very substantial list of reasons to want to be a national channel. Their biggest hurdle in terms of distribution options always involves affiliate agreements. Cable channels show their new content in HD several times a week. Networks show it once. With the ubiquity of DVRs, this can mean a sizable increase in the number of viewers. If your show happens to run as the third most popular show in a given timeslot, its DVR audience dwindles. The extra airings each week could bolster viewership (ad revenues) for the network.
     
  4. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

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    I'm not going through the history of television broadcasting, but it does need to be mentioned that radio was so strong and dominated by the big 3 in the 1940's that the FCC created rules not to allow the networks to run amok through television.

    This discussion is centered around having "national networks", so it appears whatever the FCC put in place hasn't stopped any strong national networks.
    Think about it. Isn't that what we have now? I have local channels that provide an hour or an hour and a half of local news (the local crew) and then the national news provided by the network.
    In the top five markets I'd bet there is at least an hour of afternoon news plus the national network evening news on each of those channels.

    And I note the above because in order to effect change, no matter how large or small, one must get the networks on board with making that change. After all, in the top five markets, the networks are the ones that own their local affiliates (except for Dallas ABC affilated WFAA, owned by Belo), and are the parties responsible for programming and hour or 90 minutes of local news.
     
  5. tvjay

    tvjay Godfather

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    First let me say that I work for a local TV station so I am slightly bias but I know what I am talking about because I have seen this happen with my own eyes. Name a cable outlet that will give you information when there is a Tornado in your area? There isn't one. Name a cable outlet that will provide news of a shooting at your son or daughters school? There isn't one. Name a source of information that will be there REGARDLESS of the weather? There isn't one.

    If you lose your dish because of a storm and are forced to run a generator, it is a safe bet that at least two or three LOCAL TV stations will be there providing information and programming. Some would argue that radio will work, but locally our radio stations SUCK and when I needed information about a possible tornado they had NOTHING but music playing. As a local TV station we have our own generators and can run for several days without power and that is at both the station and the transmitter site. We understand the importance of news and weather information, especially in a breaking news or severe weather situation. Yes, we do a lot of stuff that is annoying or stupid, but when it REALLY matters, I mean when it REALLY matters we'll be there. The internet, cable, and satellite can't say that.
     
  6. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Excellent thought. I'm moving it to TV Show Talk.
     
  7. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Where did this thread come from? Should I just quote here all my rants from the past two years advocating this, Stuart? Or just this one:
     
  8. gregjones

    gregjones Hall Of Fame

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    I am not advocating a situation where we have no local stations. I am advocating a separation between networks and local stations. Right now, the number of stations is due almost entirely to the structure of network affiliation. Without that artificial (and somewhat detrimental, anti-market) influence, fewer stations would have more resources to better address the strong points you discuss. Right now, we have local stations that are trying to compete as a national outlet.
     
  9. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    Based on a post on page 1, it was in the Direct TV forum which I have hidden. Since it was just moved, I'm just now seeing it for the first time. I don't know if it can be merged with the other(s) or not.
     
  10. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    It'll be interesting though. Between the Time-Warner/Fox war and the Comcast/NBC issue, either Fox or NBC could be the first to make any major change.
     
  11. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

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    I'd like to point out two separate issues with this line of thought:
    First and foremost, if ABC, CBS, Fox, MyNetworkTV, NBC and The CW became national cable channels, tell me where they rank in popularity with the current crop of cable channels. I suspect they'd charge rates higher than the current crop of cable channels. So as ESPN is charging almost $4 a month for their suite of channels, I'd believe that the "networks", as they have the viewership, would charge much more.

    So that throws the argument that "cable and satellite companies could drop most of their costs associated with local station retransmission fees" straight out the window. Costs would be much higher on a national level than on a local level.

    Secondly, it would cost a lot of money to unwind the decades of evolution of the network-affilate agreement. It is that agreement that determines the fate of networks on free-TV. And let's not forget the networks themselves have a piece of that pie: they own many of their large-market affiliates, which in turn become almost worthless if there isn't any network television broadcast on their own affiliates.
     
  12. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

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    Mr. Bimson, you make some excellent points. That being said, I wouldn't worry too much about the owned-and-operated affiliates. They tend to be in large cities and could very likely stand on their own. Not only that, but I do wonder if the O&O arrangement will survive a Comcast purchase of NBC. That would put Comcast in control of a bit too much in several markets. The City of Los Angeles proper is Time Warner territory, but many of the outlying areas in the massive Los Angeles DMA are Comcast territory.
     
  13. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

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    The O&O arrangement survived a Fox purchase of DirecTV.

    The actual question is what happens if Comcast controls NBC the network and the O&O affiliates? We certainly know that Comcast likes to make sure their content is "must see TV", so I feel they'll attempt to beef up NBC, not tear it down.
     
  14. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Keep in mind also that while network programming might be a "wash" for a local affiliate (i.e. they pay the same to have it as they make for having it)... it's also a form of one-stop shopping that ensures their livelihood.

    Consider...

    Specialty stores have a harder time than multi-product stores, in terms of keeping a large customer base. Also, even a specialty store must carry tangential-related products to keep their clientele.

    If I go to a stereo store, I expect that store to have all things stereo... not just the receiver. They need to have cables, stands, speakers, and all related peripherals. IF I have to go elsewhere for some parts, then I'm likely to shop elsewhere for everything... so no motivation to stick there.

    That's how the locally produced content works with OTA. At least part of why you watch a station's local news is because you watch other things on that channel. IF they have no network programming, then you're less likely to tune in for the local content on a reliable basis.

    Also... without the different networks OTA, it would be unlikely to have multiple OTA channels in a market. Likely only a couple would be able to survive + PBS, if all the networks went cable-only.

    Now, this might be a good thing in some people's minds... but I'm not sure it is.

    Plus as others have noted... there are still quite a LOT of OTA viewers who either cannot or do not want cable/satellite... and I'm not sure the networks are willing to just throw that audience away.
     
  15. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    Sigh. Would you care to guess how many local stations currently charge retransmission fees to DirecTV and Dish and the national cable companies? But that isn't the real cost. The equipment to gather and transmit 150-200 local Fox stations could disappear including the costs of operation and maintenance. In the long run it would save a bundle, and right now Fox wants $1 and CBS wants 50ยข.
    Take a look at the list of network-owned stations and you'll find that it is predominantly in large metropolitan areas. The reality as they unwind those agreements is that with national feeds they'd be losing access to less than 15% of households in smaller DMA's. And they could continue to service OTA through their own stations in large DMA's even as they expand their web presence.

    It's a 1958 technology and economic model that is being subsidized by viewers because of federal law. There is no logical reason in 2010 to do it this way.
     
  16. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    And don't forget the local advertisers that could never, would never advertise on national TV or cable/sat. There could be a trickle down effect of killing off more local businesses if the OTA stations start to fail.
     
  17. Kheldar

    Kheldar Icon

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    The ads wouldn't have to go national. Cable/satellite companies can insert the ads into individual local markets just like they do now.
     
  18. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    Not to mention the fact that local stations are seeing advertising revenue dry up which is why they started charging and upping retransmission fees.
     
  19. dewzan

    dewzan Cool Member

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    if it were to be Fox or CBS how would it effect contracts with college sports not to mention the nba or nfl. i'm pretty sure the nfl would claim breach of contract. and to lose the nfl would relegate a network that turns cable to tbs status, which is total irrelevance.
     
  20. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    Northern...
    In November 2008 I wrote that it looked to me like 1948 when home entertainment started a ten year transition from radio to TV ending up with what I call the 1958 model. Nothing about these kinds of transitions are easy, but it might be nice if Congress could get the federal government out of protecting that model so we could have a new ten year transition ending in the 2018 model that really will be personal entertainment rather than home entertainment.
     

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