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I hope someone can clarify this for me. If I get a good answer, I can pester the local station.


As ownership limits currently stand, my area has a restriction on ownership of broadcast stations that is not to exceed two stations. There is a station in town that owns a Fox affiliate and an NBC affiliate. They also run a cable-only WB affiliate.


As I understand it, multicasting "skirts" these rules since no matter how many streams of programming are offered, as long as it fits in one 6Mhz channel, it's still legal. So while this ownership group couldn't put an analog WB affiliate on the air, could they multicast it as part of their Fox or NBC digital signals?


If the answer is yes, this puts the entire "ownership limits" thing into question, since it would be possible for a single station in an area to multicast 6 network programs in SD from a single 6Mhz transmitter.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by sregener
I hope someone can clarify this for me. If I get a good answer, I can pester the local station.


As ownership limits currently stand, my area has a restriction on ownership of broadcast stations that is not to exceed two stations. There is a station in town that owns a Fox affiliate and an NBC affiliate. They also run a cable-only WB affiliate.


As I understand it, multicasting "skirts" these rules since no matter how many streams of programming are offered, as long as it fits in one 6Mhz channel, it's still legal. So while this ownership group couldn't put an analog WB affiliate on the air, could they multicast it as part of their Fox or NBC digital signals?


If the answer is yes, this puts the entire "ownership limits" thing into question, since it would be possible for a single station in an area to multicast 6 network programs in SD from a single 6Mhz transmitter.
Yes, this is true.


It doesn't skirt the ownership rules no more than it did 40 years ago when companies were only allowed 4 stations and if they own a station in a town that was served only by that one station and they ran programs from all three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). This happened a lot then and now with more networks and limited stations, this is becoming viable in many smaller markets.


Whether or not this continues if more stations are wiling to take the network affiliations in a given market will be seen and I am sure the contract is written in such a way that if a another OTA station came on the air, then it would have first crack the network since it would be on a secondary status on the digital station. But in the short term it does provide the public with more choices that they otherwise would not have.


The ownership cap is only concerned with actual RF spectrum used, not how many different "stations" a station can have in a certain bandwidth. Now whether this is what Congress had in mind or not, it is now law not regulation and it would take an act of Congress to get it changed if that is not what they meant.
 

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Yes, you could cram that many SD programs onto a channel, but sooner or later these threads will be filled with people clamoring for those shows to be in HD. So it becomes a trade-off.


As for ownership limits: I know it's something a lot of people don't care about on an HD forum. They think it's a hindrance because (as an example) their local CBS station isn't with the program yet, but they can't bypass it with satellite because Viacom doesn't own it directly. I tend to care a little more about localism as well -- another trade-off of broadcasting in America today.
 
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