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NAB Rejects How DirecTV, EchoStar Define 'Satellite Community' - TvTechnology

NAB Rejects How DirecTV, EchoStar Define 'Satellite Community'

The Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) allows DBS subscribers in communities outside of the market of a TV station to receive that TV station if the station is significantly viewed in the community. NAB and groups representing ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates filed Reply Comments
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The Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) allows DBS subscribers in communities outside of the market of a TV station to receive that TV station if the station is significantly viewed in the community. NAB and groups representing ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates filed Reply Comments in the FCC proceeding to implement SHVERA. NAB and three network affiliates took issue with the definition of a satellite community; the definitions of equivalent and entire bandwidth and certain retransmission consent questions.

Regarding the definition of a satellite community, NAB and the affiliates oppose the use of zip codes to define satellite communities, noting that they neither represent nor define communities. The group commented, "Community in Section 340 of the Communications Act should be interpreted the same as in Section 307(b) of the Act. Otherwise, traditional communities will be ignored, artificial communities will be created, cable will be unfairly disadvantaged since it may not be able to obtain a local franchise to serve specific zip codes, and broadcasters will be harmed by the selective Swiss-cheesing of their program exclusivity rights. Geocoding software currently exists that permits the accurate placement of subscriber households within communities as traditionally understood in the Commission s Section 307(b) regulatory scheme." NAB and the affiliates also opposed the DirecTV alternative plan that would define communities on a county-wide basis, noting that the FCC has, since 1973, "expressly maintained that county-wide data could not be used for surveys for new additions to the significantly viewed list."

NAB and the affiliates said the FCC correctly interpreted the definition of equivalent bandwidth and entire bandwidth, explaining, "if the local network station is broadcasting in multicast format, and the significantly viewed network affiliate is broadcasting in HD format, the satellite carrier may carry the HD signal of the significantly viewed network affiliate under the equivalent bandwidth requirement, provided that it carries the local network station's multicast signals. If the local network station is broadcasting in multicast format, and the significantly viewed network affiliate is broadcasting in HD format, the satellite carrier may carry the HD signal of the significantly viewed network affiliate under the equivalent bandwidth requirement, provided that it carries the local network station s multicast signals.

The group recommended apportioning bandwidth in a statistically multiplexed basis, but asserts that a distance HD signal "is simply not equivalent to a single local SD signal under the stature, and the retransmission of one SD programming stream out of several is not the entire bandwidth utilized by the local station. EchoStar proposed that the "equivalent bandwidth" and the "entire bandwidth" requirements should apply only to the primary feed of the local station. DirecTV said it cannot keep track of and account for local and significantly view distant stations switching between HD and multicast carriage throughout the day. NAB and the Network Affiliates said the solution to this dilemma "is to provide satellite carriers with two options: Either the satellite carriers must implement a mechanism to account for such shifts, at least for each day part (such as prime time and local news), which can be accomplished with currently existing technologies, or they must carry the entire bandwidth of the local station."

NAB and the Network Affiliates strongly opposed the satellite carriers' proposal that a local station's failure to reach a retransmission consent agreement should not bar importation of a significantly viewed signal from a duplicating distant network signal. For more discussion on this topic, and the others, read the Joint Reply Comments of the National Association of Broadcasters and the ABC, CBS, FBC and NBC Television Affiliate Associations.