Originally Posted by sgarringer
Not to stray too far off topic, but the thought process is that the local channels are often the most watched on a cable system and therefore they feel entitled to the largest 'cut of the pie' so to speak. The fallacy I find in that thought process is quite large:
a) We the people granted them a license to serve us and in return sell advertising to cover their expenses. Nowhere did we guarantee profit to them.
What does commercial, ie, for-profit license to use said airwaves mean to you? Yes, it does mean to serve the community. It also means they are fully entitled to make a profit from it. The FCC has explicitly stated this.
Commercial means a business, and businesses make money and profits (except now since the economy has tanked!). If you just want to break even (hopefully), get a non-commercial license, aka PBS. And since when do cable companies feel "entitled" to the largest cut of the pie? Since ESPN charges almost $5 per customer, and CBS and other networks are desiring $.50
for carrier retransmissions, how is this the " 'largest cut of the pie' "? Finally, the ratings don't lie: most of the time, still true today...the "Big 4" networks generate the largest audience.
b) When selling to advertisers, they use the numbers gained from carriage on cable to negotiate higher rates. So, in theory, they're being paid more by being carried on cable already.
They use the Neilsen ratings numbers, which is a sum of people getting it off the air and also from pay TV services. They do break it down by demographics, and of course, cable/sat coverage is very important! But if you have a channel that can be viewed in millions of homes, and nobody is watching it...it doesn't matter. They'll go out of business quickly. They want the 18-34 aged crowd...making decent money...however that signal gets to them! If it gets to 'em via rabbit ears or a coax, they don't care.
c) Although cable subscribers often times do watch local channels, if you asked cable subscribers what channels they were paying for with cable the local channels never get listed.
And then they would be wrong. And you know what: if it concerned them that much, then they'd switch to over-the-air, Netflix(tm), DVD's, the Internet, or something else. I only see that happening now because of the bad economy and a desire for different choices in entertainment, not because their bill paid for this or that channel (minus the "premium" channels like HBO, etc).
In a free market, the cable networks could negotiate with nearby affiliates, the networks themselves, and other sources for the network programming. However, we've created a monopoly where only one station in a market can carry the programming and therefore the cable companies are forced to pay whatever those stations demand.
We have a free market. And you know what? The government says that satellite providers can ONLY use their customer's home DMA markets for network TV service. Cable can use up to two, if they wish. And they have likely talked with nearby affiliates, the networks themselves, and other sources. Don't like it? Yell at the FCC. Anyway, the network then says to the cableco: you MUST only carry our local station, or you will not carry it at all. Think of it like this: A network local affiliate "X" stinks because they don't have HD or more technical problems than affiliate "Y" in another market. So the cable company goes and gets station "Y". But this hurts "X" and instead of improving the situation, hey go bankrupt, and you lose out on a local source of news, information, and local programming and service. Station "Y" doesn't care two licks about you, since they get no ad revenue from your distant area, and when the next tornado or local emergency hits, well...best to you. You're on your own.
Exceptions: a few mountainous areas where cities are borderline on several DMA's in the middle of nowhere. One community in western Virginia had 4 ABC affiliates on their system; they're down to 3, IIRC. Again, exceptions to the rule.
Finally, if anyone wants station "Y" that bad, they can frequently get a big enough tower and antenna to pick it up!
Quite frankly, I'd much rather that Dish network provide me the direct network feeds of NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. I guarantee you there would be less issues watching those than there are the local affiliates. I have no desire to see that Waukon has a snow emergency while I'm trying to watch Heros. And I'd rather get my news semi recently, not wait until 10pm to hear what stories that local channel managed to get covered by then.
So the heck with the people who know your communities the best, letting others know about urgent weather information that could cause injuries or fatalities, I'm trying to watch my show? Absolutely NO offense to the engineers and stations on this board reading this, but in a case like that or worse (think blizzard warning/snow emergency or worse, Parkersburg tornado), are TV dramas, sitcoms, etc *that* important? Really? And how else are you going to get your news if you are shunning the station doing just that? Local stations don't "manage" to get stories covered. Been there, done that...no matter how green or veteran a reporter is, I've yet to meet one who doesn't bust their rear ends to cover stories. Are there enough reporters to get all the stories, or enough time? No...but that doesn't mean the stations aren't giving their all.
I'm sorry if this comes out harsh, but as a meteorologist and formerly on the front side of the camera, who got people mad at me for running crawls about a tornado warning two counties away from them: their lives are in danger.
This is what public service is all about. And from one who had been in broadcasting and still does freelance, I can tell you: lose your local affiliate, and the community loses a voice. Support them, while you still have the chance.