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Networks Could Go Cable Only / No More Affiliates

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

  1. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    Minor correction... Cable does insert localized ads... but Satellite only inserts national ads.

    The only way Satellite has local ads is because of unique local feeds of the local stations... IF those local stations were dropped in favor of a national feed... then current Satellite technology has no way to insert a localized ad into a CONUS feed.

    IF satellite used spotbeams in order to insert localized feeds, then that wouldn't save them any bandwidth/money... so I sincerely doubt Satellite companies like Dish & DirecTV would continue to use spotbeams for "locals" if the networks went cable/satellite exclusive.
  2. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

    May 5, 2003
    So let's play devil's advocate...

    Get rid of the SHVIRA (or whatever just recently passed), including all of its precursor legislation all the way back to the SHVA of 1988. Also get rid of all legislation and case law back to 1958 such as the Cable Act of 1992 and any precursor and successor legislation.

    Question: What networks would then be on satellite or cable? None.

    How many people would then dump cable or satellite? Many.

    Be careful what you wish for...
  3. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    You do know that less than 18% of TV homes are not connected to cable or satellite? Why do you think the ad-based networks would not want that 80%+ of the audience? I have a vision for the 2018 model (this is only the cable/satellite side of my vision).

    I see packages including the old broadcast networks sold to cable and satellite just like now. NBCU would just add NBC to USA, Syfy, Bravo, etc. Disney would just add ABC to ABC Family, Disney Channel, etc. CBS might have to cut a deal with Viacom but they could just as easily package with Showtime. Fox would be packaged with the News Corp channels like FX, SPEED, etc. The CW could be packaged with the Time Warner channels like TNT, TBS, CNN, etc.

    To me, the 21 broadcast stations carried by Dish from the Bay Area DMA are a waste of bandwidth. If a station created local programming that stimulated demand - say KTVU without Fox, for instance - then Comcast, Dish and Direct might pay because enough customers want to pay.

    I'd be happy to pay Fox for an East and West feed. I have no burning desire to give my money to Cox Enterprises which owns KTVU so they can downlink from a satellite the national Fox programming, process it and transmit it to Dish, have Dish process it and uplink that heavily processed signal to satellite, from which it can be downlinked to me and processed by my receiver so I can watch it. If it weren't for the federal regulations, Cox Enterprises, as it now operates in 11 DMA's creating little if any real marketable value, would be out of business because the Rupert Murdoch's would cut out the worthless middlemen.

    That's just my vision. Others see a shift to more on-demand which could bring content directly from the content creators bypassing the whole TV industry. Many variations are possible. My alternative is to have NBCU and the rest sell their cable channel signals to be broadcast on subchannels as technology improves. In that scenario I could see those 21 Bay Area broadcasters offering 84 channels OTA with local ads, but using pay boxes to descramble the signal. That could cut into cable and satellite.

    What I don't see is the current 1958 model of 7 national networks delivered to our homes via cable and satellite from different broadcast stations in 200+ DMA's. That's 1400 channels reselling the same 7 signals. It makes no sense. So, of course, it's the law.
  4. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

    Jan 20, 2003

    - Broadcasting has been out-of-date for a very long time. Dating back to the days of SHVA and all of the constranation about distant locals "by the wink" in the days of BUD and early in DBS, people simply wanted the networks. NBC, ABC, etc. A genericized feed was just as good as "their" locals to many, and I think most people.

    - Most cable companies and DBS do not even pick up the signals OTA. These get a feed direct from the station. Most stations toss up a signal that pretty much nobody is actually receiving.

    - Local news is amateur hour after about DMA #75. Above DMA #50, state specific or city specific cable news channels exist. And, simply put, many people simply do not care about local news. And most local news, while the stations make claims to vast rural territiories, never cover anything more than five miles from the transmitter.

    - Most of the people who get TV OTA are not "poor". They are, rather, people for whom TV is unimportant. Intelectuals, non-English speakers, religious minorities, etc.

    - 212 DMAs are rediculious. The reality is that, at least as a part of the transition, a situation similar to what exists in several western states, such as New Mexico, where the entire state is aggrigated into a legitimate sized market, will exist. Just as an example in my state, the outer DMAs could easily be aggregated into the primary one, making the DMA 20 spots higher, with no loss to anybody but the station owners in the small towns.

    - In sports, which is what I really care about, part of the transition, is going to be from getting big money from an OTA network which show commercials, to a viewer pay situation, with lots of ad inserts into player uniforms, etc. The sport with the largest transition to make is the NFL.

    - The "1948-58" comment above is very profound. And, hey, AM radio, without government interference, transitioned from the primary entertainment medium to a music medium when TV took the primary entertainment role and then to a news, service, niche languages and niche music, and talk medium when FM took the music role. OTA TV will find something to do.
  5. scooper

    scooper Hall Of Fame

    Apr 22, 2002
    Youngsville NC
    I'm sorry you have such poor local TV news operations.

    The stations I have do far more than a "5 mile radius from their transmitters" for local news, weather etc.
  6. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

    Jun 6, 2009
    -- Huh?

    -- Double Huh?
  7. lwilli201

    lwilli201 Hall Of Fame

    Dec 22, 2006
    That would work for cable but not satellite. If they were to go to a national channels, they would eleminate the spot beams and go to a national beam. Inserting local ads would not be an option.
  8. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    If local ads actually generated a lot of money - and in many, many DMA's the locals are going under because they don't - there would be nothing to stop Dish and Direct from using spot beams to localize the networks or FX or anything else if the spot beams were not used up by worthless locals.
    In the Bay Area the digital OTA boundary is greater than 5 miles. In fact, based on discussion on a Yahoo forum devoted to this subject, I can roughly draw this map:


    As indicated, about half of the Bay Area DMA can get OTA if more than 30 miles from Sutro Tower, the home north of San Francisco is not located on a North facing canyon slope (about half are) or the home south of San Francisco is not located on a South facing canyon slope. If you find a topo map of California, you'll note that the Coast Range is nothing but canyons.

    The way things are working people in El Dorado County to the East across the Sacramento Valley are getting great Bay Area channel signals as well as their DNA's Sacramento channels.

    For the most part, people in Mendocino, Lake, and significant parts of Sonoma and Napa counties, a geographic area larger than many states and a population larger than a few states, can't and will never be able to get Bay Area stations OTA.

    News and weather coverage?

    News coverage in these areas is rare and normally not relevant to us specifically. If someone shot Arnold in Lakeport, you'd see news vans from Sacramento, LA, and, oh yeah, Bay Area stations. Otherwise we don't know what a news van looks like.

    Weather? When I had to drop my "distant" Sacramento stations which provided weather coverage in our area, I wrote KGO (the Bay Area ABC affiliate) complaining about us not even being on their map. They responded that they had to cover Monterey County even though it's not in their DMA because ABC had no affiliate there. They didn't explain that there's more people with more money there which was the truth. But they agreed they'd try. We now appear on the map as do many places in the Sacramento DMA. And once in a blue moon, the weather person actually mentions a temperature in nearby Ukiah. Oh, and they frequently have a weather reporter up in the Sierras even in areas in the Reno, Nevada DMA. We wouldn't know what one looked like.

    Why would we care if the Bay Area stations disappeared if we could get the 7 national networks on an East and West feed via cable and satellite? And we aren't unique, in the West at least.
  9. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 7, 2005
    Kittrell, NC
    I think everyone should just work for big companies like GM, AT&T, and Microsoft. Why do we need small businesses? They don't generate as much profit as a big business.

    I want Wal-Mart to replace all small business stores... so all I will have left in town are Wal-Marts... and then no choice of where to buy from.

    Note sarcasm above...

    It's not unlike the argument to "get rid" of local stations in favor of one network feed on cable/satellite.

    There would be a big loss of jobs, and loss of choice if that ever happens.
  10. sorentodd45

    sorentodd45 AllStar

    May 12, 2009
    I like Phrelin's idea about the East and West feeds. If I could get both on my cable system (actually Verizon), then I would have no problem with the OTA networks transitioning to cable channels.

    That's really my only complaint about network Prime Time, you only get one chance to see a program (I'm going to take summer reruns out of the equation for now). So why should I have to invest money in extra recording devices and tuners if I have a 3-way conflict?

    I rarely watch local news; that's what the internet is for.
  11. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

    Jun 6, 2009
    Other way around. I never go to any local websites for local news. I use local TV news or papers. I only visit websites of distant TV stations where watching their newscast isn't possible.
  12. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    You are agreeing then that most locals have no value other than to use my money to employ people. The choices of network programming would remain the same. You are right though, I'd lose the choice of deciding which local news fluff piece presented by weird anchor persons and "reporters" I didn't want to watch.
  13. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    I avoid TV news like the plague that it is. The following screenshot is of a web page on our web site that I go to most days twice a day to browse news:


    Sometimes I go to the KPIX web site as admittedly they tend to have the best video of Bay Area news. And if I want to see different perspectives I use Google News Search.

    But last night in between the two Dick Clark New Year's shows, I sat through KGO news. I was in despair for the news business at the end.
  14. Glen_D

    Glen_D Legend

    Oct 21, 2006
  15. dodge boy

    dodge boy R.I.P. Chris Henry

    Mar 31, 2006
    This is a bad deal and shoul dbe illegal. We are getting ever smaller points of view when it comes to news and info. This will pretty much insure a corporate bias. in everything.
  16. Kansas Zephyr

    Kansas Zephyr Hall Of Fame

    Jun 29, 2007
    The days of the nets paying local stations have long gone...locals PAY the nets now to carry its programming.

    As more eyes shift away from local OTA to cable/sat, the local revenue will continue to drop. It already is.

    Expect more local newsrooms to close, smaller DMAs may have no local news at all...larger cities may have only one or two choices. Remember that multiple news sources helps keep "the media" a more honest broker, since one outlet can expose another's sloppy/unethical reporting.

    Who do you think provides some of the video/stories to the nets for their national newscasts? The local affiliates.

    The marketplace will decide free local OTA TV's fate, of course. But, after local information starts to dry up...some people may wonder where it went and why.
  17. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

    May 5, 2003
    I gave it a rest for a while, to gather my thoughts on some very salient points:
    But the ad-based networks do get the 80%+ of the audience, through payments from the local station to the network. Sure, it may not be the cable or satellite company paying for the $1 a month to Fox, but to an affiliate which then pays Fox for the network programming.
    Because of these "regulations", Fox has not been allowed to own many of these channels. When Fox started in 1986, they owned seven stations in substantial markets, because that is all they could own. It was because of station ownership regulations that forced Fox to go to a heavy affiliate model. Those regulations were relaxed, and Fox and CBS own just over 20 stations each. However, that still requires "worthless middlemen" to reach more of the country.

    And specifically regarding KTVU: it is the largest market where Fox does not own their own affiliate. Cox is paying Fox handsomely for 49ers games and other Fox programming. How would Fox show the 49ers games? If Fox goes cable-only in San Fran, does one think the NFL will have something to say about it? There is one network that receives one game a week, and they pay the most money to the NFL. It is because it is not the ad-supported network; ESPN has a national game a week, just like NBC, but ESPN pays the NFL almost 40 percent more for Monday games that tend to get lesser ratings than the Sunday games on NBC.

    Cause and effect must be addressed.
    It is a bit simplistic to glaze over how McDonald's, Wendy's, Domino's and Papa John's make money, too, right? I mean, there is no need of the model where there are thousands of restaurants selling the same food, yet some stores are company-owned and others are franchised.

    It is the networks that picked this form of distribution, and it will be the networks that will end it if it is no longer profitable.

    Just for the record: I really thought the smartest thing the networks could have done was during this digital transition. They could have offered SD multicast so that one subchannel was local news and programming, etc. However, the networks should have retained the rights to HD feeds and sold those nationally. All cable and satellite providers are charging a premium for HD, and the networks should have been in on that deal by offering HD exclusively to the distributors.
  18. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    If I could get a Big Mac delivered directly into my home through the air, the stores would never hear my footsteps. My local McDonald's adds essentially no value to the Big Mac beyond what I can get at any other McDonald's, even less than the network affiliated local broadcast stations.
    I wish it were that simple. Five of the networks are part of media conglomerates that dominate content production of scripted programming and own the cable channel competition. More and more they are buying content from themselves, hiring a stable of producer/creators, a world of executives talking to executives. For the actors and writers, this isn't like the 1930's studio stables of actors who were paid a salary. The actors and writers in our new model are "independent contractors" who are the ones asked to forgo any semblance of economic security. Even the union trades are losing out as the production is moved to Canada or non-union parts of the U.S. That might be OK if this is all wasn't occurring within the framework of a U.S. Government guarantee - an FCC license. I don't remember any "conversation" in Congress about how this is working out for the workers or the viewers in 2008.

    Syndicated scripted programming choices are few and far between compared to 20 years ago. Local broadcasters would have been the logical outlet for syndicated programming or self-produced programming in a truly competitive market. The federal government has literally facilitated the delay in restructuring of broadcast TV to the benefit of the conglomerates and to the detriment of the public and the local broadcasting industry, IMHO.
    That is one vision that could have "played out" in a market where the networks and the locals were not protected. It would have been as good as any vision for an alternative I have.

    There will come a time when the structure of home entertainment will be totally different from the way it was in 2008, comparable to the changes that occurred in the period between 1948-1958. I just think that the change would have been more rapid in the 21st Century, comparable to the speed technology changes, if it hadn't been for the legal structure favoring the 1958 economic model.

    As I see it, if it hadn't been for Apple somehow having the fortitude to push the conglomerates around, we'd still be waiting for a government guaranteed GE (NBCU) equivalent to the whole revolution going on right now.
  19. Greg Bimson

    Greg Bimson Hall Of Fame

    May 5, 2003
    We aren't necessarily that far apart in our lines of thinking...
    But that had less to do with protection from some regulation, and more to do with existing partnerships.

    It was the affiliates that howled five years ago when series such as Monk and Law and Order: SVU were setup as an exclusive viewing for first run, then two weeks later shown on a cable outlet. And technically, it was the affiliates' right to be upset, as the networks gave the affiliates that right.

    It is business considerations that stopped the plan I suggest from being implemented, not regulations.

    Other case in point: Because the networks and the affiliate boards sued DirecTV for violations of the SHVA back in 1998, DirecTV was forced to terminate in early 1999 many network feeds from people that should not have received them. DirecTV saw hit a bump when it came to subscriptions that year. So DirecTV negotiated with the NAB to start some kind of fair way to keep all involved happy. It wouldn't be hard to simply copy the legislation used for cable TV and apply it to satellite, and thus the SHVIA of 1999 was born.

    However, the networks did question why DirecTV didn't discuss network programming carriage with them.

    The former was the easy, conservative way out. The latter would have been revolutionary, as it would have made DirecTV a defacto affiliate of the network, bypassing all local distribution.

    When it comes to hard choices, networks have generally kicked the can down the road, to deal with the issue later. At some point, the CORE issue will surface and be dealt with.

    The big one I'm waiting for? NBC to dump Leno and give back 10PM to the affiliates, to compete with Fox in the 10PM news slot. I am more apt to believe that NBC as it is so bad right now and has a handful of O&O's that they may be the first to consider dropping much of their programming on a wholesale basis. If it weren't for the Olympics and the NFL, they'd have pretty much nothing.
  20. Alan Gordon

    Alan Gordon Chancellor

    Jun 7, 2004
    Dawson, Georgia
    Where I live, the majority of local advertisers are car dealerships. I don't know about you, but I don't know ANYONE who has ever saw a car dealership commercial and decided to buy a car as an impulse item.

    Another favorite around here are lawyer ads... mostly of the ambulance-chasing breed... informing me how of much money they can get me if I'm in an accident at work, or injured in a car crash.

    I've also seen multiple other ads for national spots with local franchises addresses added onto the ad.

    I've seen multiple commercials that appear as though they are aired nationally, but appear to inserted via the local stations.

    Outside of that, I can think of maybe less than 10 local businesses I've seen advertise TV spots on the local affiliates... and that's usually only during the news or late at night.

    On the other hand, WSST-DT, a local independent station which airs a considerable amount of local-originated programming often airs nothing but local advertising. I'm sure they charge less, but unlike the affiliates, they are able to air more.


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