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The PJ Tatler

by
Seton Motley

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March 11, 2014 - 7:47 am

Wednesday brings us a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA).

You hear STELA, you think Marlon Brando.  But this mandatory renewal – the old law expires December 31 – is crucial to keeping satellite television subscribers connected to the shows they like.

And is a skirmish in a broader Crony Socialism war.  STELA in part addresses what is called Retransmission Consent.

Retransmission consent is a provision of the 1992 United States Cable Television Protection and Competition Act. 

(It) requires cable operators and other…distributors (like satellite) to obtain permission from broadcasters before carrying their programming.

In exchange, a broadcaster may propose that the operator pay cash to carry the station or ask for any other form of consideration.

As written, Retransmission Consent is hopelessly tilted in favor of the Broadcasters.

Balancing Retransmission: And the Data Says… Advantage Broadcasters

This go round, STELA’s renewal includes a provision to remove but one of these many advantages – the mandate that Providers cannot during Sweeps Weeks pull shows as a last-ditch part of Retransmission negotiations.

Don’t know when Sweeps Weeks are?  Neither do I.  Meanwhile, look what the Broadcasters can do:

Fox-Cablevision Dispute May Obstruct Customers’ View of World Series

The feud between Cablevision and the News Corporation has already resulted in an extraordinarily long blackout of programming. Now it threatens to shut Cablevision customers out of the World Series.

Get that?  Providers can’t block Sweeps Weeks – whenever they are – but Broadcasters can block things like the World Series and the Super Bowl.  They can – and they do.

Cablevision, Fox Continue Blackout Spat to World Series Start

At whom do customers get angry when they can’t watch what they want?  Hint: it ain’t the Broadcasters.  The Broadcasters know this – and they use it in negotiations to fleece the Providers.

And when the Broadcasters fleece the Providers – they fleece us.  The more the Providers pay for shows – the more we pay for shows.

So a little more balance would be helpful for everyone – except the Broadcasters, who want to keep every Crony Socialist break they have.

House STELA Draft Would Do Some Video Marketplace Remaking

…House Republicans are working on a rewrite of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act that would not be as “clean” as broadcasters would like….

You mean “clean” – like this?

Senate Democrats Warn Republicans Against Debt-Ceiling Wish List

House Approves ‘Clean’ Debt Ceiling Extension

Senate Passes ‘Clean’ Debt Ceiling Bill

Policy to emulate, to be sure.  But how “clean” is this?

After fierce lobbying by broadcasters, lawmakers abandoned the most controversial provision, which would have allowed cable providers to drop broadcast channels from their “basic tier” of programming.

Allowing cable providers to move broadcast channels into pricier tiers would give them more leverage in programming fights….

Only in Washington, D.C. is it “controversial” to not have the government mandate which channels go where.  Only in DC are all these one-sided government mandates considered capitalism – as the Broadcasters claim:

Allow Broadcasters to Continue Negotiating in the Free Market

The Broadcasters are actually the beneficiaries of decades of government good grace – well beyond the uber-tilted Retransmission laws.

They received free from government charge their spectrum – the airwaves they use to broadcast.  Surely something the cellular phone companies have eyed as they’ve paid the government tens of billions of dollars for their spectrum.

And now we have the looming spectrum incentive auction.  Where Broadcasters get to sell their spectrum – that they, again, received for free – to the cell phone companies (via the government middle man).

I’m sure a company like Verizon -  a cell phone company who with Fios is also a television Provider – is thrilled to pay Broadcasters for the spectrum the latter received for free, while also having the government tilt the Retransmission rules against them, in the Broadcasters’ favor.

The Broadcasters have a pretty sweet omni-directional Crony Socialist deal going.  Little wonder they are fighting so hard against even the tiniest of changes to it.

Seton Motley is a consultant and the founder and president of Less Government.

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All Comments   (2)
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Broadcasters make providers pay for the signal, force providers to carry the signal to areas where they (B-casters) own a monopoly market, but where the B-casters can't actually transmit to, force providers to carry additional crap channels and force them into the basic lineup, so you pay the broadcaster for them weather or not you actually want them.

I'm ready for my provider to tell LIN Broadcasting to shove it, and LIN can cry like a Democrat for all I care. We successfully told Terry Jones we didn't want his crap cowboy channel forced on us, and I think it's about time we told the other broadcasters the same.

Since the broadcasters have a general lock on local news reporting, I'm expecting the usual MSM "poor victim" spin on it, too.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the Broadcaster's defense, did it say anywhere that if they didn't use all the spectrum they had to give it back? Did it say anywhere in the agreement that they couldn't sell it? Say someone gave me something I didn't want or need. Say I decided to hold a yardsale. Would I have to get permission from the person that gave it to me to sell it in that yardsale?

That said, the Broadcasters can and do fleece the Cable and Satellite Providers for the signals they provide free over the air and the providers are forced to carry those signals. At the same time, the commercials that pay for the free over the air broadcast remain intact as part of the signal carried by the Providers. Hence, the Broadcasters get paid twice for their signals and the consumers pay through the nose for that. Plus, the Providers are limited to exactly where they can sell any broadcaster's signal to prevent them from overlapping another Broadcaster's territory even though if a person had a good enough antenna they could pick up both signals over the air. The consumer has no say in this even if he is willing to pay for the extra Broadcaster's signal. Yeah, it is a racket!
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
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