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There have been many asking for a specific "position" regarding Cable Retransmission agreements for Sinclair stations in markets with major MSO's. For the benefit of many, the following is a statement to make that "position" clear.


********************************


Dear ___________:


As you are aware, the digital television signal of [Call Letters]-TV is not currently carried on local cable systems. As explained below, the reason for this is quite simple -- the cable companies have unfairly refused to pay [Call Letters]-TV for the right to transmit its digital signal.


In many ways, your cable company is no different than a store. It buys products at wholesale and then resells them to consumers at a higher price in order to make a profit. In other words, just like a grocery store buys food and then resells it to its customers, cable companies buy television programming and resell it to their subscribers. Inexplicably, however, the cable companies do not think they should have to pay to acquire content broadcast on local broadcast television stations like [Call Letters]-TV.


The cable companies’ position is very surprising given that the model in which they pay to acquire the right to sell television programming is well established. The cable companies routinely pay to carry the signals of cable networks, such as ESPN, CNN, MTV and yes, even Animal Planet. They do this, but refuse to pay for the programming of local television stations, even though the programming on local television stations generally attracts far larger audiences than does the programming on the cable networks.


The cable companies claim that they do not pay for local broadcast television stations because the mere act of carrying the stations, and thus making the signal more accessible to cable subscribers, is consideration enough. The absurdity of such a claim is clear as soon as one stops to consider the standard practice within the cable industry of paying cable only networks for their signal. After all, if carriage of a local broadcast signal provides sufficient consideration to the local television station, carriage alone would certainly be sufficient consideration for the cable networks (which rely exclusively on cable carriage to reach their viewers) such as HGTV and Nickelodeon. The cable companies’ position is no different than a grocery store refusing to pay Kellogg’s for boxes of Fruit Loops, on the theory that just being on the shelf where consumers can buy the cereal should be payment enough.


The cable companies also like to claim that their subscribers will not pay for local channels because they do not really care if they receive local stations via cable since they can already receive them free over-the-air. This simply is not true, as evidenced by the complaints cable companies routinely receive if they do not carry a local broadcast station. Further evidence has been provided by the large number of people who signed up for satellite service, such as DirecTV and Dish Network, and abandoned cable service, only after satellite began offering carriage of local channels. In addition, the vast majority of satellite subscribers pay either $5.00 or $6.00 per month simply to receive their local channels via satellite. As “Television Week,†a major industry publication, recently noted, the addition of local stations to satellite removed “one of the most compelling attributes cable has had over satellite.â€


In addition, the cable companies use the carriage of local television stations’ digital signals as a way to retain existing subscribers and attract new ones. They use their carriage of these signals (and such compelling high definition programming as the Super Bowl and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament) as a way to entice analog subscribers to switch to higher priced digital service. They use their carriage of high definition digital broadcasts of local stations to differentiate themselves from their competitor, satellite, which currently does not have the requisite bandwidth capacity to carry these signals.


Cable companies benefit when they carry local broadcast channels in the form of more subscribers and higher profits. A portion of the fees their subscribers pay each and every month is to compensate the cable companies for delivering their local broadcast channels. Fundamental fairness dictates that the cable companies should pay the broadcasters for the signals they are reselling.


It’s that simple.


Sincerely yours,


********************************


If you have further questions, most of you know where to find me :^)
 

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because the whole thing is BS its simply david vs. goliath and david thinks he can get a peace of goliath's pie. I could see this being an issue if the cableco was charging extra for the hd feed but in the case of say Comcast who charges no extra for the HD local feed then why pay for it??? these little guys like sinclair/emmis will soon realize they're only shooting themselves in the foot.
 

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Hmm, well in San Antonio Sinclair doesn't have any HD signals to hold back from the local cable companies.:mad:


I'm pretty sure that basic lifeline cable is not free. If Sinclair were serious about this issue, they would hold back their analog signal until they could get compensation from the local cable company. That might hurt Sinclair's Nielsen numbers though.;)


Hmm, maybe Sinclair could hold back the analog signal and offer the HDTV signal gratis in the meantime, but only on the condition that the cable company not downconvert the HDTV signal until a new consent carry agreement is reached. That would of course be the principled way to make a stand about this sort of thing...l


Jim
 

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No, cable companies pay for the analog local signals. It may not be in transacted cash but a lot by barter between the station and cableco.


If you have been watching Discovery Channel and you see a commerical for a news story on your local station, that is more than likely a barter agreement where for carriage rights, the cableco provides X amount of commercials on other cable channels for the local station. You see this mostly during sweeps for the local news pieces.


Now, the cable industry is on record with the FCC they OPPOSE carrying ANY digital OTA signals and their justification is it is a duplication of the analog signal and it uses bandwidth that could be used for PAYING cable channels. This is why the broadcasters have pushed so hard for must carry on the digital signals. The cablecos are using the verbage of the current DTV rules to deny the carriage of the digital signals since it makes them no money and uses bandwidth that could be used for other channels they can make money on. Now, if a station were to GIVE AWAY to the cableco the rights to carry the DUPLICATED DTV OTA signal, then that is OK! See the double standard here. "If we have to pay for it, we don't want it. We have to work out a deal with the broadcasters for analog, the FCC sees to that, but DTV is not covered so if we don't have to, we won't." And that is the how the industry thinks.


Now on the other side of the coin, some MSOs HAVE stepped up and just offered or worked out agreements with the stations transmitting more than 480i since they see it as NEW programming and the local subscribers are demanding it but you rarely see a cableco carry all the digital signals in a market. In my market, the local cablecos only carry the big four and PBS since they are the only ones carrying ED/HD signals and the UPN and WB and TBN isn't so they aren't on the systems.


Your hard arses like Comcast and to a certain point Sinclair (but I don't blame them for holding out for the best deal possible, but I suspect that Comcast wants to give NOTHING for the digital carry and Sinclair is probably asking for a least a token, but only MrDTV can answer that if he chooses) are determined to make a maximum profit on what HD there is, and that is their right too. So here we are.


Most people mistake birthright and privilege. OTA TV IS a birthright. Cable is a privilage you pay for and that is the difference.


In the end, the public will sway either party to get off the dime. The ball is in your court, Mr TV Watcher.
 

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I can't believe they are going down this road. FCC regulations that apply to the relationship between local broadcasters and cable companies are built on the idea that broadcast television is a public service. That is the very reason broadcasters have a frequency to broadcast on.


The fruitloop thing is completely off base. To make that analogy work the fruitloop company would have the entire product paid for by advertisements on the box. They would also have use of exclusive "fruitloop only" delivery roads owned by the taxpayers.


If Sinclair thinks its that hard to compete in the frame work established by the FCC for broadcast television, then I suggest they sell all their stations and focus on cable network works.



Several years ago in PA a law that covered underground storage tanks ran hundreds of mom and pop gas stations out of business due to cost of compliance issues. The FCC has bent over backwards to reduce the chances of a company going out of business due to the digital transition, but it didn't guarantee that weak companies would survive.
 

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For every person that is watching the DTV local channel there is one less person watching the analog.


However, DTV viewers are not covered by ratings, so by providing the DTV signal local stations are actually helping to lower their ratings.


One would thing that by agreeing to carry the same local ads (the "barter") on the DTV channel the cable companies should be able to do the same deal as for analog.


But, should the station be compensated for its loss of income from lower ratings?


I agree that the cable companies screwed up big time by not embracing "must carry" for DTV, but its the DTV viewers that are taking it on the chin.


(PS - I cannot subscribe to cable, since I live in a rural area. All my DTV is OTA or E*, so I have no horse in this race.)
 

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A stations reimbursment is simple. It owns a monopoly in it's viewing area for that particular network. I live in Western MA and we have a sinclair ABC station that of course doesn't pass HD. Comcast had a deal already worked out with a Conn. ABC station to supply us with ABC HD. But, because our local ABC is owned by Sinclair and is too cheap to pass HD they vetoed the deal, which they can do because they own a monopoly on ABC in Western MA.
 

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I do not see where Sinclair has anything to sell to cable. If they don't pass HD then they offer no additional value over the analog signal the cable company already carries.


If the cable company can take the 6MHz digital channel from the broadcaster and convert it to QAM which only requires 3MHz and presents the same quality image to the home viewer, should the broadcaster then have the right to demand the remaining 3mhz for their own use to sell, datacast or subchannel across the cable system?
 

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Quote:
A stations reimbursment is simple. It owns a monopoly in it's viewing area for that particular network.
Monopolies are often seen as bad things. To the extent a monopoly becomes viewed as a public detriment there may be a public backlash against it.


How does that particular Sinclair ABC monopoly come about? Is it a side effect of some law or FCC mandate? Or is it just something in a contract an affiliate has with ABC?


Anyone know?


- Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
In the end, the public will sway either party to get off the dime. The ball is in your court, Mr TV Watcher.
Yep; viewers should complain to their cable companies about not carrying all the HD locals. I agree with you that HD is (to some extent) a "new" service for them, and it provides a competitive advantage to keep viewers from switching to satellite.


Most cities have some HD channels that aren't re-broadcast on cable; I don't really know who to blame here - is the affiliate asking too much or the cable co being too cheap (or a little of both)? I imagine the answer varies by location.


As far as 480i DTV goes, it just seems that Sinclair is complaining about the cable company doing something that makes sense. If its not EDTV/HDTV, then it is very close to a duplication of the analog signal.
 

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Sinclair, (fill in the blank) in your market not cutting it? Your only choice is to shut up and put up, as they are locked in on these decisions, and could care less or can't see any "profit" in going forward untill they have no choice, get over it!


The other choice is to MOVE to a market that offers all you want OTA, almost kind of easy. Trust me this IS very easy to say if you live in a market that has them all up and running. ;-0
 

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Nice letter, but doesn't at all explain why TW in Cols carries the local CBS and NBC channels, but doesn't carry the ABC and Fox channels (SBG owned)

Perhaps because the CBS and NBC channels here value their viewers and charge the cable company NOTHING to let them also carry the HD feeds.

Why should SBG be the ONLY stations in our market to receive money for the HD feed?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Barry928
I do not see where Sinclair has anything to sell to cable. If they don't pass HD then they offer no additional value over the analog signal the cable company already carries.


If the cable company can take the 6MHz digital channel from the broadcaster and convert it to QAM which only requires 3MHz and presents the same quality image to the home viewer, should the broadcaster then have the right to demand the remaining 3mhz for their own use to sell, datacast or subchannel across the cable system?
Cable does not make "channel" deals with broadcasters/networks. The carry the content of the program feed. Typically, a carriage agreement states that the cable network only has to redistribute the signal without altering the content. They can do so in any way, technically, that works for them, unless otherwise specified.


For example, on digital cable, HBO in some cases has limits on how much their signal can be compressed. But it can be compressed, via QAM or MPEG or whatever other method the cable operator uses to distribute their signals.


AS
 

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The problem with your explanation, "Mr. DTV Guru", is that in my market, the Triad, NC (#44 market in the country), the local Sinclair-owned affiliate WXLV-DT IS carried by Time-Warner, it's just that your skin and bones operation won't pony up to upgrade THE ONLY NON-HD AFFILIATE IN THE MARKET. Hell, even our local FOX affiliate is uprezzing to 720p, and there won't even be HD content from the network for months! (Thankyou very much, foxeng!)


I have given up on ever being able to see Monday Night Football or a BCS bowl game in HD. Ever.
 

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"Position" of viewers living in a market serviced by a Sinclair station:


Bent over with pants around ankles.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Broderick
"Position" of viewers living in a market serviced by a Sinclair station:


Bent over with pants around ankles.
Nail, meet head.
 

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Thanks for posting this information.


What is translates to in the Columbus market is that the Sinclair owned affiliates (FOX and ABC) will not be seen by cable subscibers anytime soon.


What this means for me as a consumer is that I will NOT use Time Warner Cable AND I will not watch ANY FOX programming. Which, in and of itself, means diddly squat.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by trbarry
How does that particular Sinclair ABC monopoly come about? Is it a side effect of some law or FCC mandate? Or is it just something in a contract an affiliate has with ABC?


Anyone know?


- Tom
First off it isn't a monopoly, it is an exclusivity. Second, it is a contractual exclusivity.


The FCC doesn't go into programming issues.
 
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