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OpEd by Directv and Time Warner CEOs - 20 year old FCC Rules

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Satelliteracer, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. Alan Gordon

    Alan Gordon Chancellor

    Jun 7, 2004
    Dawson, Georgia
    I'm not saying that broadcasters should charge cablecos either, but...

    I can't get cable, so I can't comment on the pricing now, but years ago, I know they offered a package that was just locals, shopping channels, public access channels, and 4-5 somewhat popular channels for like $14.95... I suspect it's $20 or over now. That's like the cheapest package... and it's main attraction are the local channels.

    From a subjective standpoint, I think the idea of a company who adds $3.00 to their package to include locals among many channels is considerably less offensive than a company who charges $15-$?? for a package where the main attraction is locals. Some cablecos may be better about this... I really don't have any experience to say otherwise...

  2. HarleyD

    HarleyD Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2006
    And what about the regulation that permits local stations to demand carriage on sat/cable? So when a small, perhaps low-power or niche channel demands carriage the cable and sat providers have to just eat that cost?

    I know that here in the Tampa DMA channel 40 is a second low-power ABC affiliate that really doesn't offer much. Nobody would miss it. But it is carried. MPEG4 only.
  3. SamC

    SamC Hall Of Fame

    Jan 20, 2003
    They most certainly do N O T own any signals. The airwaves belong to the public as a community and government grants particular liscensee a temorary liscense to operate on OUR airways in the public interest and as a public trustee, subject to whatever conditions and rules the public, via government, wishes to place upon such liscenses.

    Fortnightly correctly pointed out that millions of Americans, pretty much everybody more than 40 to 60 miles from the broadcast source, depending on the terrain, cannot receive OTA signals, adn correctly ruled that the mere picking up of these signals and retranmission of these without change is in no way a part of copyright, and is something for which TV monopolists should not be paid for. In its greed the NAB used its monopolist power to get Congress to change the rules after the fact.

    It is, as the excelent article points out, time to reverse this unfair law. Local TV should be free. Everyone should get all of their local stations, at no change, from whatever provider they so choose. Any of the TV monopolists that feels it cannot make sufficient return from this basic model (a model that worked well for over 40 years) is free to get out of the broadcasting business. I will take any station they wish to dispose of.
  4. Racer88

    Racer88 Icon

    Sep 12, 2006
    Is the sum of DirecTV plus Time Warner now greater than the NAB? LOL I'm thinking not even close. :nono2:
    Maybe if you'd started circling the wagons 20 years ago you'd have at least some percentage of the political and financial clout on Capital Hill that they have, but you didn't and you don't.

    ...and this has nothing to do with anything other than what is best for DirecTV and TWC. Same as what the NAB did 20 years ago was best for them. :nono2:
  5. davidatl14

    davidatl14 Icon

    Mar 24, 2006
    Spot On.

    No doubt that the op-ed is only a well worded missive to add to the D and TW profits.

    Not my point on this though, as SamC correctly pointed out the Local Stations don't own their signal and thus charging anyone retrans fees is dubious at best.
  6. n3vino

    n3vino Godfather

    Oct 2, 2011
    It could also be a contract issue. I know that here in San Antonio, Tx, the Fox affiliate would not allow their HD re-transmission by TW, but they would allow the non-HD, unless they worked out a contract. The station argued that they had a high cost to transmitt their HD signal. They told TW subscribers that they could get their signal free over the air. So what about those HD monitors that don't have an HD tuner, such as my older set? I was on TW's side, since Fox didn't offer much that I wanted to see other than the Cowboy football games.

    In this city, there are a lot of Dallas Cowboy fans, and the Fox affilitate is the one that normally broadcasts their games. I hated watching the Cowboys in analog before they went HD. But that's how they probably keep their viewership, by allowing the non HD signal to be re-transmitted.

    That's also what caused a lot of Cowboy fans to go to D* when TW turned down the NFL network. It was over two Cowboy games that they wouldn't be able see because they would be shown on the NFL network.
  7. HarleyD

    HarleyD Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2006
    Well, after doing a little digging into Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television two things occur to me.

    1. Case law gives me a throbbing headache.

    2. I'm confused how a regulation that flatly contravenes Supreme Court judicial precedent got on the books in the first case. The court clearly decided that CATV falls on the side of the viewer and does nothing more that expand upon and enhance the functions of equipment normally supplied by the viewer (antenna and TV set). Even though the case was decided over 40 years ago as this decision applies to the local broadcast TV model little has changed. How did it come to pass that the CATV and Sat providers had to compensate the local broadcasters?

    So, anyway...I'm sure someone or perhaps many of you will educate me on this.

    Heck, that's one of the things I count on from this place.
  8. BattleScott

    BattleScott Hall Of Fame

    Aug 28, 2006
    They most certainly do own the signals. Only the transmission medium (air) is owned by the public. Because they broadcast their signal over publicly owned spectrum, we have the right to receive it free of charge. there's no law that says they have to transmit it far enough for everyone to receive so the OTA range argument is meaningless. Because it can't be charged for, doesn't mean they have to ensure access to everyone by other means who can't receive the signals.

    If service providers wish to retransmit the signal as part of their subscription packages, then they should pay the price or not retransmit them.

    When all service providers are required to offer free local service to everyone and act as nothing more than airwave extensions, then they can rightly demand free retransmission.
  9. Alan Gordon

    Alan Gordon Chancellor

    Jun 7, 2004
    Dawson, Georgia
    It's possible, but they have a deal with the same station for their NBC affiliate.

    However, that was not my point. My point was that here I am... a fairly small market (are we still DMA #147?) and providing a full local channel selection in HD might require more than one transponder. I know how they could do a work-around, so it's possible it could still happen for me.... but other DMAs might have the same issue, and not be as lucky.

  10. ChicagoBlue

    ChicagoBlue Godfather

    Apr 29, 2011

    When you buy gas, do you get to negotiate it? How about your electricity? The meat from the butcher? The shoes at the shoe store? I respect your opinion but do not understand your $8 price increase comment.

    At the end of the day, all the television providers are saying that because the networks got hit with a bad economy, poor product and slumping ad revenue, they are using leverage granted them by Congress to make up the difference from cable, telco and satellite companies. Ultimately, we pay. The tv providers know that people paying the bills are pissed off at them, not at the people forcing the rates to go up because most people in this country aren't smart enough to understand that when ESPN pays billions for NFL, that means the distributors have to raise their rates.

    The broadcasters need the pipes (at least in parts of this country) to deliver their content. They need the revenue from these distributors to prop themselves up. The distributors are the ones left with the angry BattleScott's of the world because you write the check to them each month, not directly to ESPN, NBC, FOX, HBO or whomever. That is what this is about.
  11. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    Sure they do. But before cable and sat they air their programs over the air for free. Then cable came along and all the locals jumped on board for free because it allowed people (their viewers) to have a better experience. Then they decided they could charge distributors for them. But say cable and sat didn't exist, they would still be giving it away free over the air.

    To me this is kind of like setting up a roadside fruit stand. For people who come from one way get free fruit. But people who come the other way have to pay. Makes no sense. The stations think they are extracting the money from the distributors, but in the end, all the money comes from their viewers. Why should some get it for free while others have to pay.
  12. Jive Turkey

    Jive Turkey Legend

    Sep 5, 2011
    Cable and Satco's are using the local stations to make money. Sure, the accounting ledger (trick) might show that they pay more in retrans fees than the $3 per subscriber they pull in, but the fact is that without the locals, many of those subscribers wouldn't be there in the first place. There is a reason every D* ad you see mentions locals and that is one of the first things you see on their website when you compare packages.

    It doesn't matter if these signals are available for free OTA, D* and others are still using them to build and keep a subscriber base, and that entitles the locals to some compensation. (The amount they want is egregious in a lot of cases, but that is another issue that has arisen from government sticking its giant nose in where it doesn't belong. That is a discussion for another day.)

    If I write a song and distribute it for free, that doesn't mean you can come along and use my song in your business without compensating me. Whether it is wise for me to demand compensation instead of accepting the extra millions who would hear my song, that is something else entirely. But it is still a legit demand.
  13. BattleScott

    BattleScott Hall Of Fame

    Aug 28, 2006
    B-I-N-G-O. We have a winner.
  14. HoTat2

    HoTat2 Hall Of Fame

    Nov 16, 2005
    But this really begs the question, do these allegedly "many subscribers" sign up for the local stations with all or most of what they show per se? Or is it really just the network programming from the big four, the CW, and MNT they distribute which most are after?

    This is why the FCC needs to repeal these ancient retransmission laws effectively protecting the local stations' exclusive market access and allow truly open competition for audience.

    Remove the protective hedge from the local stations by giving the MSOs the option to import network programming from an out of market source via DNS or some other if they chose not to pay the retransmission fees of the local stations and see how it goes.

    Force the locals truly stand on their own and have to compete fairly in the marketplace.

    This analogy though only applies to programming originated by the station, not the network material they merely relay or act as a conduit for. They do not own that, yet are using it as leverage to extort ever higher fees from the MSOs.
  15. BattleScott

    BattleScott Hall Of Fame

    Aug 28, 2006
    What difference would it make? Assuming you are correct and the real draw is the prime-time network programming, do you think the networks are just going to give it away? All you have to do is look at the ESPN situtation to see how that model works.
  16. Alan Gordon

    Alan Gordon Chancellor

    Jun 7, 2004
    Dawson, Georgia
    Where I live, it's the opposite!

    I had distant networks for all the big four nets back during a portion of the 90s, and when I lost NBC and FOX, I simply stopped watching NBC and FOX. I later gained them back when I got an antenna in order to get their HD feeds (unlike their SD feeds, I get good PQ with their digital signals). However, that was probably five years or more I did without NBC and FOX programming.

    You may say I'm an exception, and I'm sure we're in the minority, but everyone I know (aside from those on cable) simply didn't watch network programming until the satcos delivered them.

    Did any of your stations complain and go on rants about how the satellite companies aren't carrying their signal?!

  17. davidatl14

    davidatl14 Icon

    Mar 24, 2006
    Yeah LiL shouldn't have it both ways.

    "Whine about must carry constantly in the past" then want exorbitant fees for retrans.

    It doesn't affect me much personally because in my setup I can access network Programming legally from three sources.

    2.Roof Mounted Antennae
    3.QAM via my ISP.

    Massive rip off by the Lil's only made possible by outdated ineffective regulations.

    All DBS and Cable Co's should be able to rebroadcast for a Nominal fee the LIL's in market and from the neighboring DMA along with 2 DNS feeds from ABC,NBC,CBS, FOX and CW .
  18. TBoneit

    TBoneit Hall Of Fame

    Jul 27, 2006
    There is one other point that may be overlooked

    At this point in time a Fox network affiliate has to pay Fox per subscriber for satellite TV viewers. They had the choice of paying when their contract with Fox ran out or dropping their affiliation as several did.

    This puts the station in the position Where if D* & E* carry them they have to collect for that carriage or switch to independent.

    Is there anybody that doesn't think the other networks are not watching this?

    At the present time I get locals from satellite, and Clear QAM from the basic cable subscription I keep. On 1 HDTV and two DVD recorders with HDDs that tune Clear QAM. That also gets me all the NYC sub-channels too. I have people that watch News12, only on cable all the time so I pay for it.
    I know for sure I can get NYC locals with an antenna & I suspect the Philadelphia locals too.

    In the past, Good Old analog TV days I used to be able to get both cities with rabbit ears on the second floor. It took a little tweaking of the aim but it worked. I suspect that means a decent Rooftop antenna could get me either.
  19. Upstream

    Upstream Hall Of Fame

    Jul 4, 2006
    Heinz makes tomato ketchup.

    There are lots of ways you can get Heinz Ketchup. You can buy it from a local supermarket like Safeway, Wegmans, or Stop & Shop. You can also buy it from big box stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target, or Costo.

    Kmart has a very expensive infrastructure which makes their distribution costs higher than Walmart. But Heinz doens't sell their ketchup at a discount to Kmart because they have higher costs.

    Walmart resells a lot of Heinz ketchup. That gives them a lot of power in negotiating with Heinz. If Walmart stops selling Heinz ketchup, then people who buy ketchup at Walmart might buy another brand, and Heinz might lose a lot of sales.

    On the other hand, a lot of people who buy ketchup insist on buying Heinz brand. If Walmart stopped selling Heinz ketchup, then a lot of people who buy Heinz ketchup might buy their ketchup elsewhere. And they might buy a lot of their other groceries elsewhere as well. Then Walmart might lose a lot of sales.

    Negotiations between Walmart and Heinz are always difficult because both companies want to make money; both companies know they have a lot at stake; both companies know they need each other; and both companies know that consumers don't want to pay a lot for ketchup (expecially since consumers perceive it as something you get for free at McDonalds).

    If Walmart and Heinz are able to come to an agreement, then Heinz continues to ship ketchup to Walmart and Walmart continues to sell it to consumers.

    But if they don't come to an agreement, then Heinz stops selling ketchup to Walmart, and Walmart stops selling it to consumers. If consumers then want to continue buying Heinz ketchup, they need to get it somewhere else.


    CBS makes television programming.

    There are lots of ways you can get CBS television programming. .........
  20. keith_benedict

    keith_benedict Godfather

    Jan 11, 2007
    I don't like blackouts any more than anybody else, but isn't this just the free market at work?

    I wish the authors would have done a better job of explaining the current rules, what they want changed, and why they should be changed--other than the fact that they are antiquated.

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