All private OTAs are strongly looking at retransmission fees to get money, if they do not do it already. The PBS stations, from what I understand, are under a blanket must carry rule. The content providers, rightly or wrongly, perceive OTA only viewers as low disposable income people. Why waste time with OTA? Go straight to the cable and satellite viewers who pay for the HD packages. The ABC/Cox/ Lowell Register dispute was an ominous beginning. ABC wanted lots of money yearly from the Macon DMA. It did not care who paid. If the local OTA station has to borrow all of the payment, so be it. ABC did not care how much debt they were pushing a local OTA to have. Pay us and upgrade the entire station to HD while your at it, on the schedule we dictate. So Register went after local Cox customers for more money, along with the other cable companies customers.
Just today I read that the LA Lakers are pulling all regular games from OTA. ESPN has looked to cut deals that would pull all of NASCAR off of OTA. An advertising analyst asked the question:" Why are automobile dealers making 4:3 480i OTA commercials to sell items that cost $30,000 to $60,000? Is it possible that the only people who can afford new cars are watching television on a 50"Plasma or 55" LCD 1080P HDTV set, getting HD content from a satellite or cable provider? Make the switch to HD commercials. Your potential buyers are not rabbit ear only customers watching on a SDTV set. Those people have no disposable income."
The FCC staff would do away with OTA tomorrow, if they could get the mobile/cellular telephone companies to pay a annual lease fee per MHz of bandwith used for nationwide wireless broadband.
Yes, in a down economy the competition for monthly income has gotten much more fierce.
I do not like this situation. I wish all OTA stations had opted for extremely strong must carry rules. The cable companies would have had to carry all multicast channels the OTAs created. Look at the way PBS(GPTV) created 3 multicast channels to serve a diverse audience. Where you used to suffer with PBSKids for most of the day, now you have shows for adults on at the same time. Multicasting may have increased viewership and absolute numbers of donors for GPTV. If the private OTAs had done the same under must carry, I think we would see none of these disputes. The big national content networks would have had to get money from advertisers or pay less for big name actor salaries and benefits. No way to shakedown the OTAs or the cable/sat companies without having monthly rates go up. Everyone would know exactly who is wanting the extra money.