Responding to the FCC’s annual video competition report, the Community Broadcasters Association argues that low power television stations need mandatory carriage in order to survive and thrive. And that’s just on of the axes it’s grinding. CBA basically used the video competition platform as a starting point, saying there was not enough competition between cable and satellite to give low powers any leverage whatsoever in getting carriage.
They claim that local MVPDs generally have a virtual monopoly on access to the home, and when they refuse to carry low power outlets, they are almost completely shut out of their market, since few viewers who could get the low power off air are accustomed to switching back and forth between MVPD and off-air service. CBA does note that incoming telcos have been more inclined to carry them as demonstration of their commitment to local programming.
CBA claims low powers were disadvantaged further when the FCC did not make analog pass-throughs a requirement for all digital-to-analog converter boxes.
It notes that the DTV transition has left many if not most low powers out in the cold, and with less viewers available since so many off-air viewers have switched to MVPDs. It also did not help when the FCC has been advertising the “end” of analog broadcast even though it knew that’s what LPTVs would be using.
CBA wants the obvious – it wants mandatory carriage, now that digital technology will vastly expand the amount of programming that can be accommodated on a cable system.
RBR/TVBR observation: For awhile there it looked like at least Class As would get mandatory carriage last year, but even that fell through. The FCC needs to do something to make sure this service can survive.