[opendtv] Re: Bob likes COFDM

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 08:45:29 -0500

At 9:48 AM -0500 3/25/05, Tom Barry wrote:
>But I've also heard that TV stations may not have to pay as much for the
>rights to run some material off hours.  Anybody know if that is true?
>If so then it seems they could experiment with advertising and running
>some prime HDTV material in the dead time and maybe see if there is any
>response.  Say, have a couple of Midnight Madness sales.
>Heck, my PVR says it would be interested.

Yes, the price of syndicated programming can reflect the time period 
in which it is shown. But this is typically only true for programming 
that is still popular and has a proven track record. Thus it is 
likely that a station will pay more for the shows that it runs in the 
two "prime" periods for syndication - 4 - 6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. This is 
also a reflection of the audience that is delivered - these time 
slots draw the biggest audiences and the highest ad revenues for 
syndicated shows, so naturally the syndicators charge accordingly.

There are two problems with programming for PVRs during off hours:

1. There is very little prime HDTV material available for 
syndication. Traditionally there has been a three year lag from the 
time a program runs on the broadcast networks until it appears in 
syndication. In some cases this is being extended, as the networks 
are now moving some of these shows to the cable "browser networks" 
like FX and ABC Family, before they are released for syndication. For 
example, CSI, which premiered in 2000, is now shown on Spike TV - 
owned by Viacom - 5 nights a week at 7pm; it is not available for 
syndication to local broadcast stations.

2. It may be impossible to get local rights to much of the 
programming that would be desirable for video caching, if that 
content is already available on cable in a broadcast market.

Aside from the issue of commercial skipping, one must consider the 
larger competitive picture. IF broadcasters choose to offer more 
programming choice, they will be in direct competition with cable and 
DBS, and the entire issue of market exclusivity will be called into 
question. Today it is accepted that the same channels are available 
in a market via cable and DBS - this is as it should be. Broadcasters 
strictly enforce their market exclusivity rights for both network and 
syndicated programming. Thus, we have an independent station, WJXT in 
Jacksonville, (formerly CBS) that is carried in this market, EXCEPT 
when their programming duplicates shows that are carried by local 
Gainesville/Ocala stations. Thus the cable system must block WJXT at 
certain times, based on nothing more than a letter from a station 
manager stating that they have the rights to this content in the 
Gainesville/Ocala market.

The obvious solution is to treat broadcasters the same as the other 
multi-channel competitors. Let the broadcasters carry the same 
content as cable and DBS, and drop the exclusivity. Instead of paying 
programming and syndication fees based on market size, everyone would 
pay based on the audience they actually deliver. It gets even easier 
if you treat distribution as a common carrier - that is, decouple 
content and carriage. Then the content people simply broker the best 
deals to get their content onto each competing system.

What a concept!


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