Putting Rudolph Back on the Air

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. (left)
National Journal
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 »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×