The boards representing CBS affiliates and NBC affiliates have written to key Members of Congress, opposing a proposal by cable and satellite interests to permit unrestricted import of out-of-market but in-state TV signals. The letters warn that the proposed change could cut ad revenues and make local stations unable to negotiate reasonable retransmission consent payments.
“Most importantly,” wrote the NBC affiliates group, “these proposals would erode the long-standing principle of localism by diminishing local stations’ ability to negotiate for retransmission consent fees and earn advertising revenue, both of which support their television service — such as local news, weather, and sports — to their local communities. These proposals would undermine the delicate balance that Congress intended for retransmission consent negotiations because cable and satellite carriers could play the out-of-market affiliate against the in-market affiliate to frustrate the in-market station’s ability to negotiate fair and reasonable retransmission consent fees.”
The CBS affiliates noted, “Allowing a pay-TV provider to import affiliate programming from distant, but in-state markets would threaten the viability of the local affiliates in the local market. The local affiliates’ advertising revenues, which are based on viewership, would diminish because their audiences would be fragmented.”
The letters were sent to senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and John Kerry (D-MA), and representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rick Boucher (D-VA).
RBR/TVBR observation: The economic viability of local broadcast service was under pressure before the economy really started to tank last autumn. This is certainly not the time to let MVPDs play around with imported broadcast signals at the expense of localism.
To read the letters we mention above click on the pdf links in the attachment box in the top right cloumn.