The Demise of Retrans
August 5, 2012
surprised at how
little TV station
about what goes
on in Washington,
D.C. that may affect their livelihood. I
understand this to a degree. Everyone has more than enough work
to do on a daily basis, and it’s the job
of lobbyists to look out for the interest
of broadcasters in D.C. But no other
business is under as much pressure to
fold up and go away as broadcast TV,
which has not yet made flames come out
of faucets as far as I know.
Remember the Faculty Scholarship
Series paper from 2009 when a Duke
University Law professor suggested
regulating broadcasters out of business?
“One may regard a set of proposed
regulations as foolish and likely to hobble
the industry regulated, but perhaps
desirable if one believes that we would
be better off without that industry,” wrote
Stuart M. Benjamin. “I consider this
question with respect to spectrum policy.”
Surely the judiciary would block that
level of government manipulation, right? Since 2009, broadcasters have
been required to control loudness
levels, caption streamed video, post ad
rates online, relinquish buffer bands,
implement an incomplete Emergency
Alert System protocol, and anticipate a
second channel repacking in 40-percent
fewer frequencies, while dealing with
years of uncertainty with regard to media
ownership and indecency laws.
Now, the very copyright law that
protects TV signals from out-and-out
piracy is under attack on Capitol Hill.
Why? For one thing, it’s inconvenient for
those who want to resell the signals for
a profit without paying for them. Signal
copyright is also the foundation of the
retransmission consent legal regime.
Without it, TV broadcasters don’t have
the protection that nearly anyone else can
invoke on YouTube.
The dismantling of retransmission law
is just a matter of time.