Local Choice fight ramps up as CBS refuses to run ATVA ads [telecom]

By Daniel Frankel, FierceCable, August 28, 2014

CBS Radio will not run the American Television Alliance's new spot plugging the Senate Commerce Committee's "Local Choice" proposal.

The refusal to air the low-budget campaign is not a shocker, given that -- should it become law -- Local Choice would dispense with broadcast retransmission fees and employ a system of pay-TV compensation that would likely be far less profitable to broadcasters.


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"... the proposal will ... unfairly single out the free, over-the-air, local television broadcast industry for mandatory 'a la carte' treatment."

I think broadcasters better be careful about using that argument. Many of the advertising-supported non-broadcast channels carried by MVPDs are there because the broadcast companies own them and demand that operators carry them as conditions for granting retransmission consent for their broadcast signals.

To cite my favorite example: in the Houston DMA the Walt Disney Company owns:

- The ABC Television Network

- KTRK, the local Houston ABC affiliate station

- Numerous non-broadcast channels include ABC Family and The Disney Channel

- 80% of ESPN

Under the 1992 Cable Act, Disney has the legal right to require Houston-area MVPDs to carry, and pay license fees for, some or all of those non-broadcast channels if they want to carry KTRK.

If broadcasters are so upset that the Local Choice Act would "unfairly single out the free, over-the-air, local television broadcast industry for mandatory 'a la carte' treatment", do they really want the feds to impose "a la carte" treatment on those non-broadcast channels?

Does Disney really want to give me a chance to drop ESPN?

Neal McLain

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Neal McLain
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