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Under today's satellite rules, a consumer is not allowed access to a distant network signal if they have access to the local network signal. This system was designed 50 years ago to nurture the development of local stations and local content. In effect, it was protection for a "start up" condition. However, local stations are no longer "start up" operations, and they should no longer be given exceptional legal protection.

I have the legal right to buy a newspaper from any city I choose, and have it delivered to my home, regardless of where I live. Why can't I watch the TV broadcasts from the same city? Why does a local TV station have the right to censor my access to other TV stations? As long as I am willing to pay for this service, why is the government (FCC) still making it illegal for me to do so?

Currently, my local TV station has the right to alter the HD signal coming from the network. They re-encode it to a lower bit rate, in order to fit in several extra channels of local content. They even have the option of removing the network show entirely, and replacing it with a local show. If I want to watch this local content, great. However, if I don't want to watch this local content, I have no other options. I am prohibited by law from watching the original network content on another local channel from another city (or from the network feed directly). This removes all competition from the local broadcaster, and removes all incentives for a local channel to provide a high quality (high bit rate) signal.

Why don't we give consumers the right to individually decide whether they want more content (extra local channels), or more quality (higher bit rates)? I believe there is room in the market place for both scenarios, and each person should have the right to legally access the content they choose. The U.S. Constitution provides for free speech. Shouldn't we also be allowed legal access to the speech?

-- Mike Landis, STMicroelectronics

www.SkyReport.com - used with permission
 
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