[opendtv] Re: Fewer than 2 Million have OTA DTV in US

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 10:24:26 -0800

A few points.

Before local into local, the number of DBS households was 8 million, not 10.
That's a 20% difference.  I have a good friend in that business (installs).
In the week after local to local, in San Diego County, his number of
installs a week went from about 100 to 175-200.  He handled all installs for
DirecTV in the county at that time.

You are playing that market violin again, and it's still off-tune.  Localism
has nothing to do with market topology.  Localism is tied to "city of
license" as any fool knows.  Stations HAVE to serve their city of license;
they may serve other areas.  If there is more than one city listed in a
station id, we're talking here about the first one listed-- the city of

Stations are evaluated at license renewal time on how well they serve their
city of license; not their market, their DMA or ADI.  Station proposals are
evaluated by the FCC on whether their proposed signal covers their city of
license, not their county, state, ADI or DMA.  If they don't serve all (or
at least 99% of their city of license with a city-grade signal, and another
proposal does, they lose.  Only after all this requirement is met, are
station proposals evaluated on how many new, unserved homes are covered
(white areas.)

So, stations unilaterally decide when retrans agreements expire?  I always
thought it took a "meeting of the minds" before there was the possibility of
an agreement.  I think you might want to inform courts that you know more
about contracts than they do.

"If people could get the localized information they need"?  You mean from
newspapers that are laying off thousands of reporters at this time because
of declining local advertising and classified advertising revenues?

Sounds like a big if.

Markets are not intended -- and I mean any type of market -- to restrict the
flow of information.  That's Marxist dogma.  They are intended and generally
distribute information.

By the way, TV aside from news and public affairs, is not distributing
information, but entertainment.  The plot of an episode of ER, while
entertaining, contains data but no information.

Merry Christmas.

John Willkie

> -----Original Message-----
> From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> On Behalf Of Craig Birkmaier
> Sent: Monday, December 25, 2006 3:42 AM
> To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [opendtv] Re: Fewer than 2 Million have OTA DTV in US
> At 12:17 PM -0800 12/24/06, John Willkie wrote:
> >I believe I answered this in advance.  Local-into-local in 1999
> "unleashed"
> >the DBS business; access to local channels provides much of the draw for
> >cable.
> >
> The DBS business already had 10 million subs before they began to
> offer Local-into-local in major markets. But this does not diminish
> the importance of the broadcast networks as part of the overall TV
> landscape. Many of the first ten million lived in rural areas where
> cable was not available, and OTA service was either poor or
> non-existent. Fortunately, this means that they could qualify for the
> network east and west coast stations (New York and LA.). Local meant
> nothing to these subscribers - in fact, like many others who managed
> to get the network feeds from the coasts using pirated smart cards,
> they preferred this arrangement.
> Why? Because it gave them two shots at watching the network programs.
> This notion that "localism" is important is tied directly the the
> market model we use in the U.S. , and the protectionism of those
> markets. The reality is that the content is the same in every market,
> with the exception of news, and the occasional public affairs
> program. The stuff people really want is coming from the networks,
> and program syndicators.
> When it comes down to the wire on a retransmission consent agreement,
> the station typically picks a time of year when they have the most
> leverage. If the network carries football, chances are good that they
> will threaten to withhold their signal during football season. And to
> be fair, there are still enough high quality first run programs on
> the networks to keep people interested, even if they watch non
> broadcast channels most of the time.
> Bottom line, if people could get the localized info they need, they
> could care less if the station is operated locally. The weather
> channel has been doing this since it started, with a computer at each
> cable head end to handle the local inserts. Sinclair demonstrated how
> easy it is to make news and weather stories look like they are local,
> despite the fact that many of these stories came from the News
> Central studios in Maryland.
> Our "local Fox affiliate (in Ocala) is operated by Meredith
> Broadcasting from studios in Lake Mary, where they run a triopoly
> that includes the Orlando market. Left to the marketplace to decide,
> we would see broadcasting consolidate into a handful of regional
> operations centers where "localized" content would be generated and
> inserted into the various feeds to the local transmitters.
> But the marketplace is not allowed to work in one of the most
> important aspects of modern society - the ability to control the flow
> of information to the masses.
> Regards
> Craig

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