Several years ago, I chaired the PBS board's New Technologies Committee at a time stations were seeking protection from distribution of the PBS signal (the fact it was named "Schedule X" didn't help much) over the death stars, ...er, DirecTV and Echostar. One of those classic spear-catcher roles. Nothing gets local broadcasters blood boiling faster than the thought of being bypassed by the network or by big market superstations. The issues are very complicated, and perhaps that's why they continue. This time, it's the commercial stations who are fighting the distant signal battle in court vs. EchoStar.
Gigi Sohn writes (the headline on this post is from her article):
Last Friday, a District Court Judge in Florida denied the request of the National Association of Broadcasters and Echostar Communications to stay a decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that requires Echostar to stop providing “distant” network TV signals to hundreds of thousands of subscribers nationwide. Several broadcast networks had sued Echostar, claiming that it had violated 17 USC Section 119, which gives satellite companies such as Echostar a compulsory license to import network TV signals from outside a household’s viewing area if that household is deemed to be “unserved” by a local TV station. The law basically has two purposes: 1) to ensure that those viewers who cannot receive good network TV signals can receive them and 2) to protect local broadcasters (and their advertisers) from the competition distant signals might provide.
Link: Public Knowledge.
Kim Hart at the Washington Post says some 800,000 subscribers are effected.
I know how broadcasters feel, "cuz-I-are-one," but, friends, bypass is everywhere in the producer/aggregator/station/user value chain. While we keep doing our version of the old Smothers Brothers "looking up in the air gag," the important long-term bypass is happening under the ground. And it's not just the four principal satellite companies (two TV, two radio) doing it, even our viewers (e.g., YouTube) and listeners (podcasts) are bypassing us. Check out the first graphic in this post. --Dennis