Putting Rudolph Back on the Air

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. (left)
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Dec. 12, 2013, 12:51 p.m.

If TV black­outs are cost­ing you your chance to watch Mir­acle on 34th Street, Rep. Anna Eshoo thinks you’ll like her latest bill. Not to be out­done, Rep. Steve Scal­ise, R-La., is of­fer­ing his own plan to end black­outs.

The Video CHOICE Act, in­tro­duced Thursday by Cali­for­nia Demo­crats Eshoo and Rep. Zoe Lof­gren, aims to re­form re­trans­mis­sion con­sent policy — which has been a sub­ject of heated dis­cus­sion between broad­casters and pay TV pro­viders. Scal­ise’s bill, also mak­ing its de­but Thursday, would elim­in­ate re­trans­mis­sion con­sent al­to­geth­er.

Cur­rently, cable and satel­lite com­pan­ies are re­quired to ne­go­ti­ate peri­od­ic­ally with broad­cast af­fil­i­ates to de­term­ine how much they will pay to carry their pro­gram­ming. When the sides can’t agree on pri­cing, the pro­vider loses the sta­tion and its sub­scribers get left in the dark.

Broad­casters say most black­outs are caused by pay TV pro­viders un­will­ing to pay a fair price. Cable and satel­lite com­pan­ies say the broad­casters are jack­ing up fees and re­form is needed.

For ex­ample, many DISH Net­work sub­scribers in Montana won’t be able to watch NBC’s Christ­mas Eve broad­cast of It’s A Won­der­ful Life un­less Bon­ten Me­dia Group re­solves its dis­pute with the pro­vider.

Eshoo says her bill would change that. It would give the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion the abil­ity to keep sta­tions on the air even if ne­go­ti­ations are stalled. The bill would also al­low pro­viders to of­fer cable chan­nels without for­cing cus­tom­ers to sub­scribe to broad­cast pack­ages as well.

“My bill would put an end to broad­cast tele­vi­sion black­outs and en­sure con­sumers aren’t held host­age by a dis­pute they have no con­trol over,” Eshoo said in a re­lease. She also said she would work with Scal­ise on ad­dress­ing broad­cast policies.

The Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Broad­casters quickly voiced its op­pos­i­tion. “Clearly, these two pieces of le­gis­la­tion are ut­terly in­con­sist­ent with each oth­er, and we find it sad that pay TV com­pan­ies who built their broad­band, voice and video busi­nesses on the backs of loc­al TV sig­nals now balk at the no­tion of pay­ing a fair mar­ket rate for the most-watched pro­gram­ming on tele­vi­sion,” the group said in a re­lease.

On the oth­er side of the is­sue, a co­ali­tion of pay TV pro­viders hailed both mem­bers’ ef­forts. “[Both bills] would re­form the cur­rent video mar­ket and pro­tect con­sumers,” said a state­ment from the Amer­ic­an Tele­vi­sion Al­li­ance. “While the bills re­flect dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to re­form, they show the ever-grow­ing bi­par­tis­an sup­port for im­me­di­ate ac­tion to fix re­trans­mis­sion con­sent.”

What We're Following See More »
FROM YEARS AGO
Rep. Joe Barton Apologizes for Nude Selfie
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
THE QUESTION
How Many People Have Signed Up for Obamacare So Far?
2 hours ago
THE ANSWER

About 2.3 million, after three weeks of open enrollment. That exceeds the pace of sign-ups last year.

Source:
19 FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
Latest Count: 12 Trump Campaign Staffers Had Contact with Russians
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
THREE STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR
Eight Seaman Rescued as Navy Plane Goes Down Near Japan
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said. The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement."

Source:
AT ISSUE: COMEY FIRING, SESSIONS’S RECUSAL
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login