Don’t Let TV Station Moves Leave Viewers in the Dark
© 2019 NAB State Leadership Conference

The issue:
Congress must work closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that their constituents do not lose access to their local TV stations during the ongoing broadcast repack process. The FCC must apply a fair and equitable waiver process to ensure that no TV station is forced off the air if it is unable to meet a repack deadline due
to circumstances outside its control.

Background:
By law, nearly 1,000 local television stations across the country are required to move to new frequencies due to the FCC’s broadcast spectrum incentive auction. These are stations that did not participate in the auction and received no benefit, but are nonetheless undertaking intensive and time consuming work to accommodate it.

These frequency moves are scheduled to occur over ten phases, with an expected completion date of July 3, 2020. This timeline was established before the scope of the transition was apparent and progress to date indicates that it will be problematic due to issues outside of broadcasters’ control. Current law would require stations that are unable to meet their deadlines to go off the air absent a waiver from the FCC.

Delays due to weather, a shortage of qualified tower crews and other complications may prevent some stations from meeting their deadlines despite their best efforts. Already, at the recent conclusion of the first phase in the ten phase repack, the FCC had to grant extensions to more than 10 percent of impacted stations due to circumstances outside the stations’ control. Tower companies expect that repacking challenges and delays will only increase in subsequent phases, threatening the ability of repacked stations to continue to serve their viewers.

Seventy-two million Americans who watch TV over the air for free with an antenna are at risk of losing their lifeline connection when stations move frequencies if they do not rescan their TV sets. Even then, some viewers will find themselves unable to receive the new signal.

The bottom line:
Your constituents should not lose access to the critical emergency information and local news broadcast stations provide due to arbitrary and unachievable deadlines set by the FCC. We urge you to stay in close contact with the FCC on these matters throughout the 116th Congress to make sure the FCC applies a waiver standard that ensures no TV station is forced off the air due to circumstances beyond its control.

For more information and to see how your state and district will be impacted, visit nab.org/TVStationMoves.
© 2019 NAB State Leadership Conference

The issue:
The C-band is a strip of satellite spectrum that radio and TV stations use every day to receive critical content for their broadcasts. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering transferring some or all of that spectrum to wireless companies for new services, which could impact the programming listeners and viewers rely upon.

Background:
Thousands of local TV and radio stations, cable and satellite providers and over-the-top video providers rely on C-band spectrum to deliver national and syndicated content to consumers. If not handled carefully, new uses of this spectrum could cause interference that would have significant consequences for consumers.

The C-band is used for satellite communications, helping to deliver many of the national and syndicated shows you watch and hear every day. Those who use this spectrum have invested billions of dollars to launch satellites and build stations on the ground to receive and disseminate critical content to consumers, such as weather information, network news and entertainment and syndicated programs for radio and TV. This spectrum has unique characteristics that are impossible to replicate by other services. Additionally, it’s extremely sensitive to  interference, so great care and technical consideration must be given before allowing new services to operate in this strip of spectrum.

The bottom line:
Broadcasters do not oppose examination of new uses of the C-band. However, any review should take into account the extensive use and significant investment in the band by broadcasters and others, the lack of meaningful alternatives and the unique technical properties of this spectrum. Congress and the FCC must ensure that any changes in C-band spectrum protect existing users and their listeners and viewers from harmful interference or loss of service entirely.

Ensure Viewers and Listeners Keep Access to Programming Delivered Through C-band Satellite Operations
© 2019 NAB State Leadership Conference

The issue:
Congress should not mandate a performance tax on free, local radio stations that would jeopardize local jobs, prevent new artists from breaking into the recording business and harm the 270 million Americans who rely on local radio. Broadcasters urge legislators to stand up for their local radio listeners by supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes a performance tax.

Background:
For nearly a century, record labels and performers have thrived from airplay – which is essentially free advertising – from local radio stations. But despite record revenues from streaming services, the big record labels continue to urge Congress to impose a tax on the local radio stations that are, ironically, their greatest promotional tool. Each Congress, legislation backed by the record labels is introduced that would impose a new fee on local radio stations simply for airing music on the radio. This legislation would financially cripple local radio stations, harming the millions of listeners who rely on local radio for news, emergency information, weather updates and entertainment every day. Radio’s free promotion is worth billions of dollars annually to the record labels in the form of additional revenue from music streaming, sales, concert tickets and merchandise.

Here’s how:
• Local radio continues to be the top source for listeners seeking new music.
• Free radio airplay provides the recording industry increased popularity, visibility and sales for both established and new artists.
• Promotion by local radio goes beyond the music to include concert and festival promotion, on-air interviews and social media marketing.

Recognizing the promotional value of free radio airplay, Congress has repeatedly rejected the record labels’ attempts to impose a harmful performance tax on local radio stations.
The Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes any new tax, fee or royalty on local radio stations, enjoys strong bipartisan support in both chambers. This strong support for local radio was made clear in the recent enactment of the Music Modernization Act, consensus legislation that benefitted all stakeholders – and did not contain a performance tax. Broadcasters have consistently demonstrated good faith in working with the record labels to try to resolve the performance tax issue through private discussions. In the past few years, numerous radio companies and record labels have negotiated private deals of their own that compensate copyright owners and performers, demonstrating the ability of the marketplace to best address the issue.

The bottom line:
Broadcasters are firmly opposed to a government-imposed performance tax, but stand ready to work with Congress and the music industry on a balanced music licensing proposal that promotes innovation and recognizes the benefit to artists and listeners of radio’s free, locally-focused platform.

Will you stand up for your local radio stations and their listeners by cosponsoring the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes a performance tax?

A Performance Tax Threatens Local Jobs Narrow Satellite Legislation Should Expire as Congress Intended
© 2019 NAB State Leadership Conference

The issue:
The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) should be allowed to expire at the end of 2019 – the date that Congress intentionally chose for this temporary law to sunset. Not only have its provisions become unnecessary due to dramatic changes in the media marketplace, but its reauthorization will harm some viewers who are being denied access to their local television stations. Broadcasters oppose STELAR reauthorization. The law has worked, and the narrow provisions it contains are no longer necessary.

Background:
Thirty years ago, nascent satellite television companies were temporarily given a significantly discounted copyright license that allowed them to better compete with big cable monopolies at a time when there were millions of Americans who could not receive their local broadcast stations over the air, from cable or from satellite. On a temporary basis, Congress allowed the satellite companies to serve those households with a broadcast station operating outside of the local community, typically from a major city, so viewers could receive their favorite network programming. But the market and media landscape have fundamentally changed over the past three decades. Those nascent satellite companies are now media behemoths: AT&T-DIRECTV is a $235 billion company, and DISH is a $17 billion company.

Technology has eliminated the need to import out-of-market station signals to consumers, and satellites now deliver local TV stations to all 210 local media markets. In spite of these developments, this below-market subsidy still incentivizes satellite companies to deny some viewers local news, weather and life-saving emergency information and instead send them an out-of-market signal. Further, there are a dozen markets around the country where one satellite company is choosing to deny local viewers their local programming altogether. Viewers will benefit from eliminating this outdated law, ensuring they receive the local content most relevant to them.

The bottom line:
Congress should allow STELAR to expire as it originally intended. There is no policy justification or technological reason for this outdated law to be reauthorized. The time has come to stop subsidizing billion-dollar satellite TV companies and to instead provide viewers with the local news, weather and emergency information they want and need. Will you oppose STELAR’s reauthorization and allow it to sunset, as Congress originally intended?