Network affiliates look to avoid Congressional revenue bus


It is no secret that revenues are a white hot topic in Washington, and the impending breach of the debt ceiling could throw revenue-generating items such as, say, an auction of spectrum in the television band, into sharp focus. The heads of the four major network affiliate organizations are writing to each member of Congress to ask for four basic protections as talks on debt and spectrum move forward and possibly interconnect.

The affiliate organization heads signing the letter include NBC’s Brian G. Lawlor, CBS’s Wayne Daugherty, ABC’s William S. Hoffman, and Fox’s Brian Brady.

The letter, which is addressed to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will go to all members of the House.

In it, the quartet restated the broadcast position on spectrum auctions, that being that there are no objections as long as broadcasters are not thrown under the bus.

The guarantees requested include:

* That stations do not lose service area or face new interference;

* That broadcasters have their full bandwidth in order to offer new and innovative services to viewers, and that they are not compromised by landing in low VHF territory;

* That the FCC be limited to one auction so as to not continually disrupt the relationship between television stations and their viewers;

* and that broadcasters are fully reimbursed for expenses incurred by any forced government changes.
They concluded, “It is important that Congress protect the interests of television viewers and local broadcast stations. Broadcasters have always been dedicated to serving the public interest through their commitment to localism and their high-caliber news and public information programming. And the public relies on and benefits from these services. We look forward to working with you to ensure that broadcasters are able to continue to fulfill that responsibility and that the public can continue to enjoy the benefits of those services.”
The full letter can be viewed here.

RBR-TVBR observation: This has always had the possibility of being a difficult Capitol Hill battle as a simple struggle between broadcast and telco organizations. Throwing in a totally unrelated but compelling revenue element is just about the last thing we need. It should not be used as an excuse to create bad policy, and it would indeed be bad policy to harm the many people who rely on broadcast television, and the many more who will continue to benefit as it develops new capabilities moving forward.