Originally Posted by eacalhoun
I may have posted this at some point, but its hard to believe that until around 1990 WYFF (and WFBC) had a translator for Morganton. I wish that DMAs had the seemingly minimal influence today that they did then - it used to be that if the masses could get your OTA signal then you (the viewer) were considered a part of the TV audience. These days, coverage stops at the county line if you reside in the adjacent DMA. WLOS has flip flopped over the past 10-15 years in their coverage or references to Burke County. About 2 years ago I mailed (not email) them a letter to argue the point of why they give Cherokee and Clay counties in southwest NC considerable coverage when they - like Burke - are NOT in the GSP-AVL DMA. Cherokee is in Chattanooga's and Clay in Atlanta's. And unlike Cherokee and Clay, WLOS gets a far better OTA signal into Burke. Granted, WLOS has a translator in Brasstown near Murphy, but - as of a few years ago - it got a barely watchable analog signal at my in-laws' some 7 miles away in Warne near Hayesville. To truncate this long story, my letter got Burke added to the corner weather icon and scrolls when there are severe weather watches and warnings as well as the county highlighted during the newscasts' weather segments.
As created by Nielsen and supported by the FCC, the so called designated market areas (DMA) came into being. When this was done, every county in the United States was defined to be in a particular market. From my understanding, these markets did not have nearly as much importance as they do today (from a regulatory standpoint) until the early 1990's. At that time, the federal government enacted the so called "must-carry" rules as it relates to the retransmission of local broadcasters. What we have now is a situation where each DMA is protected and no broadcasters outside this geographic area are carried over cable or satellite networks within any particular DMA, unless it is approved by the FCC.
I don't know of any other media in this country that is so tightly regulated. The FCC did come out with a list of so called 'significantly viewed' out of market channels a few years ago. This ruling allows cable and satellite companies to rebroadcast the 'significantly viewed' channels to 'out of market' viewers. However, this so called 'significantly viewed' list is limited; and there are no other exceptions. In practice, it seems the cable companies don't even take advantage of many of these opportunities --where they are permitted to do so by the FCC.
From some of the articles I read in the past, Dish Satellite 'supposedly' circumvented these FCC mandates in some markets with their customers a number of years ago. Apparently, when the FCC caught onto this, they took away the ability of Dish to provide any locals whatsoever to their customers. I suppose this was done as punishment. After some time, the rights of Dish to rebroadcast locals in each market were restored by the FCC, with the understanding that they strictly adhere to the FCC mandates.
Personally, I find these DMA rules to be a bit draconian in nature. I wouldn't expect cable and satellite providers to start offering cross country locals. However, when viewers have any ability whatsoever to receive a TV signal via antenna, that network should be offered over cable and satellite networks. There's also the ridiculous issue (in my opinion) of viewers (notably many in outlying areas) that are denied access entirely to what they may (themselves) consider to be their principle market--such as the rural Georgia viewers being denied access to ATL stations because their county is not defined as being part of that DMA.
This is one nice thing about OTA. If we are lucky enough to live in a decent reception area, we can also enjoy out of market locals.
Below is a link that describes the basics of DMA markets:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_market