Local Station Blacked Out? Just Import Another Affiliate!

What can you do about TV blackouts? If you can’t get your CBS station in New York City, how about watching a CBS affiliatefrom Phoenix, Detroit or Miami? That’s one politician's proposal.

All I can say in response: Can’t wait to see CBS station general managers in a bar at the network’s affiliates meeting.

The idea is to give consumers at least some network-supplied programming during any period when their home market station was blacked out due to retransmission negotiation snags. For consumers in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles who were affected by the recent CBS/Time Warner battle, that would have been around a month.

In theory, for example, those markets could have gotten the CBS affiliate in Phoenix, or Denver, or Seattle. Not too sure how that would benefit the specific network or program provider in question -- in the latest case, CBS. Consumers would be happy, for sure. But CBS would have lost its negotiating leverage, which would have shifted to the hands of the cable operator, in this case Time Warner Cable. Is that fair?



Legislators, of course, are not interested in protecting big media companies. Their decisions are to protect -- and play to -- their constituents. No one wanted CBS viewers to be unable to see the NFL games that started this past weekend. All hell would have broken loose.

Rep. Anna Eshoo;s (D-Calif.) proposed legislation would give the FCC the ability to “grant interim carriage of a television broadcast station during a retransmission consent negotiation.”  That means a “distant” out of market station.

Question is: Would a CBS affiliate go along willingly -- or would it be a requirement? A station might gain a little money if it was paid on the same rate as the previous agreement of the station or stations in question. But what would this do for the substitute station’s relationship with its network?

The legislation would also allow consumers to buy cable services or packages without including broadcast stations. That could that be the start of real a la carte packaging.

But what would be the price? That would be anyone’s guess. More likely, all this would lead to a bigger mess than the ones already endured by TV consumers.

1 comment about "Local Station Blacked Out? Just Import Another Affiliate! ".
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  1. Peter Benjamin from MyOffices, September 11, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.

    The solution is simple. If the networks signed contracts with Aereo and Filmon type carriers to send their signal they could all win.

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