UPDATED 11:05 AM ET

‘Local Choice’ Gone From Senate STAVRA Bill

The retrans reform proposal for a la carte channel selection is removed from the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act. NAB applauds the decision, saying: “NAB is thankful for the consideration Senate Commerce Committee members gave the 'Local Choice' proposal and for recognizing the unintended negative consequences this measure would have had on localism, broadcasters and our millions of viewers.”

The “Local Choice” broadcast-only a la carte proposal has been removed from the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) by the Senate Commerce Committee. The retrans reform provision was supported by the cable industry and opposed by broadcasters.

The proposal’s authors, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Ranking Member John Thune, issued this statement regarding Local Choice: “During the last month, Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Thune have successfully begun a discussion on Local Choice, which would empower TV viewers, maintain our policy of broadcast localism, and ensure TV stations get fairly compensated for the retransmission of their signals. Because it is a big and bold idea, Local Choice deserves more discussion and a full consideration by policymakers, and the committee may not have time to include it as part of STAVRA. Rockefeller and Thune are focused on passing STAVRA next week, and continuing to work with their colleagues on Local Choice.”

NAB President-CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement: “NAB is thankful for the consideration Senate Commerce Committee members gave the ‘Local Choice’ proposal and for recognizing the unintended negative consequences this measure would have had on localism, broadcasters and our millions of viewers. We thank the nearly 130,000 viewers and listeners across America who have called and emailed Congress on the importance of preserving free and local television.

“We remain seriously concerned with a number of provisions remaining in the Commerce Committee bill, and we look forward to working with committee members as STAVRA moves through the legislative process to ensure our viewers’ continued access to lifeline local television,” Smith added.

Robert C. Kenny, spokesman for the broadcaster advocacy group TVfreedom, issued this statement: “We are encouraged by the Senate Commerce Committee’s decision to eliminate the ‘Local Choice’ components from its draft STAVRA legislation.In the interest of the millions of low-income households, seniors and underserved populations that rely on paid television services for their local news and programming, severe weather updates and emergency information, we will continue to fight to preserve the lifeline basic service tier provision in any legislation that moves forward this year.”

American Cable Association President-CEO Matthew Polka said: “Make no mistake about it: Local Choice is a powerful, bipartisan idea rooted in free-market principles that would create a level playing field and discipline the market in ways that benefit the public.  This is a concept whose time will come.  In the next Congress, ACA stands ready to work with lawmakers on enacting this important reform so necessary to protect consumers from TV station-initiated blackouts on less than a moment’s notice.  One thing is for sure: ACA will be there every step of the way until real ‘TV freedom’is the law of the land.”

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Marci Ryvicker said that “while it sounds like Local Choice is not completely dead, we think that the proposal is almost impossible to be passed this congressional cycle without being a part of the STAVRA bill (recall that STAVRA sunsets at the end of this year).” She added she was “not surprised by today’s announcement and view this as an overall positive to some minor overhang in the broadcast stocks.


Comments (35)

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John Bagwell says:

September 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

Too bad for Ted. I guess he will have to find other things to do with his time than to post here all day.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Let’s all cry for Ted….not for the death of Local Choice….but because, he’s Ted….

Ellen Samrock says:

September 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Like the performance royalty issue for radio, Local Choice is going to continually raise its ugly head with each session of Congress. Count on it.

Sandy Hinkle says:

September 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm

“Don’t Cry for Ted TV Sta-shuns….The truth is he’ll neh-ver leave you…All through these wild days, in Senate Comm-merce…Reform’s a proh-mise…I doubt you’ll miss us…..”

Fact is, Local Choice is a BIPARTISAN idea. You can’t hold back the tide. Reform is coming. And you think the leaders of the Commerce Cmte are going to forget what the NAB/TVFreedom crowd did to kill everything? Follow me @MATTatACA

    John Bagwell says:

    September 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Matt, the fact is that Local Choice singled out broadcasters as the problem with retransmission fees and blackouts. Can you blame us for not getting behind it? In every comment you made on here, you stated that the bill is what the consumer wants, but that really isn’t true. The consumer wants a true ala carte for all broadcast AND cable. That truly is what the consumer wants. Now you and I both know that a true 100% ala carte business model would be hard to sustain for your members. So because this bill singled out broadcasters and didn’t hurt any of your members, you supported it and tried to sell it as being “pro-consumer”, when that actually isn’t true.

    Sandy Hinkle says:

    September 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Don’t you guys read? Viacom is going with their own a la carte model OTT, and if there was a bill that call for a la carte, we’d support it. In fact your own spinmeisters at TVFreedom — Fred Campbell and Rob Kenny — knows this better than anyone because they both WORKED FOR THE GUY WHO SUPPORTED A LA CARTE, MARTIN, WHERE WE WERE THE ONLY ONES TO SUPPORT WHAT MARTIN WANTED TO DO! So quit your yammering about how we are only singling out broadcasters. You guys are broken records who do nothing but spout NAB and TVFreedom platitudes. You know why you broadcasters hate Local Choice??? Because for the first time EVER, YOU would be accountable to the customer, rather than hiding behind the cable company and your confidentiality provisions in your retrans contracts. But I tell you this, accountability and transparency are coming for you, and when it does, you will have no one to blame but yourselves, your networks, NAB and the TVFreedom shills. And Local Choice happened because consumers and lawmakers are tired of your blackouts, plain and simple. But you all are like the dinosaurs who think that if we just keep things the same as they have always been, then things will be great. BOOM! Asteroid! You’re toast. Follow me @MATTatACA

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 10, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Don’t you guys read? Local Choice DID NOT happen – where you state it “happened” past tense.

    Sandy Hinkle says:

    September 11, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Until next year…it’s not past tense. That’s what you don’t get. You can’t unring the bell.

    John Bagwell says:

    September 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

    “BOOM! Asteroid! You’re toast!” Really Matt? YOU lost yesterday. Local Choice will NEVER pass Congress unless it is 100% ala carte. Even then, I highly doubt it would. And quit our yammering about singling out broadcasters? Matt, Local Choice DID single out broadcasters. If it didn’t, then why wasn’t cable included in the bill? Please Matt, tell me. I can’t speak for Fred or Rob, but I think you would be surprised at how many broadcasters would support a 100% ala carte model. That said, be careful what you wish for. Why would people need a cable system if they are going to buy ala carte programming online?

    John Bagwell says:

    September 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Plus Matt. in a previous filing with the FCC your organization wrote, “Current technology
    costs make à la carte a financial impossibility for ACA member systems, the business model is
    entirely unproven, and no lawful basis exists for imposing regulated à la carte. Moreover, ACA
    members report that many customers prefer a basic or expanded basic package with a variety of
    channels at a reasonable price.” So why are you all of a sudden for a 100% ala carte model?

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth, depending on which way benefits him, imo.

    kristin serman says:

    September 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    How did they lose all the Senate did was kick the can down the road till next year. This issue is not going away if anything their is more support for it in Congress now. Not to mention numerous bills in Congress that are ready to go likely next year that will do away with a lot of laws that are currently on the books.
    So your likely to see local choice or a expanded version of it, along with other bills that gives folks more choices getting out of market stations, doing away with the controversial DMA areas, retransmission laws.
    That currently favor broadcasters and puts consumers at odds with them and service providers.
    So expect some sort of a la carte system or complete free market system coming soon.
    Why because we are likely to see a split congress with less Democrats in the Senate or a Republican Controlled Congress your going to be seeing more of these bills popping up.
    Not to mention Democrats more and more are starting to side with Republicans because they feel that the tv outlets are becoming less and less local control for the citizen those folks are now on board with this in some form.
    Along with Senators blasting CBS and Les Moonves for not airing the ads on radio for Local Choice and if you read their comments on it they are likely getting fed up with the current system.
    So they haven’t lost if anything momentum is shifting in the favor of huge changes within the next 18 months.
    If anything the broadcasters/cable channels may have to work with these folks because if not they will be taking huge backlash on this.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 13, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Rockefeller will be out of office before you see it pass.

    kristin serman says:

    September 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    But Sen. Thune, Sen, McCain , Sen, Graham, Sen. Blumenthal, Sen. Fischer, Sen. Sanders and the Republicans in house like Majority Whip Rep. Scalise are going nowhere and they support changes to the current system.
    If you think this is going away not even close it’s going to come back in larger form and in a good number of bills. These bills are talking about eliminating DMA areas going to a total free market, local choice tv, ending blackouts, ending sports blackouts, doing away a lot of the laws that folks consider consumer unfriendly.
    All they did was kick the can down the road I expect we will see major changes because the interest in Washington and amongst consumers is high.

Don Thompson says:

September 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Can’t wait for your reaction after word leaks that Sinclair TV is asking the FCC to impose Local Choice on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. Sinclair has no problem crushing small Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo by blacking out the NBC signal for 212 days and saying that’s how the free markets works. Now with Comcast in position to send David Smith to the poorhouse, Sinclair is badgering the FCC for the following Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger conditions: retransmission consent arbitration, 50% cap on reverse comp. and various technology mandates. We know now that Sinclair’s commitment to free market principles is totally situational and that this massive TV station owner is a caféteria conservative.

Don Thompson says:

September 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Oh, Please follow me on Twitter @TedatACA

Don Thompson says:

September 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Local choice has been on the table since only Aug. 8, 2014 …………. This is not the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. This is the beginning of the beginning. And as an American President said long ago to lift the spirits of his countrymen: “We have only just begun to fight.” ………………….. Please follow me on Twitter @TedatACA

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Put 100% a la carte on the table instead of singling out OTA Broadcaster and perhaps you will have a prayer (until Congress realizes that will cost them BIG MONEY during their re-election). Otherwise, you will be on the losing side…………………… Please follow me on Twitter @NotTedatACA

    kristin serman says:

    September 12, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    I agree not only do I think this is the very beginning of the process. But if you read a lot of the proposals likely coming down the pike huge changes are likely coming. From Local Choice, repealing a lot of the laws on books, doing away with the DMA system going to a system where you can get your stations from regional areas or distant areas. Putting in price controls on certain channels, picking and choosing the channels you want.
    So I don’t see how folks claim this over you have Sen. Thune, Rep Scalise, Rep. Gardner , Sen Fischer,
    Sen. Blumenthal, Sen. Sanders , Sen Schumer , Rep. Schakowsky just some of the growing list of folks wanting changes in the next year. Because they feel the citizens are getting a bad deal and less choices for what they are paying. They feel the current system doesn’t work, that blackouts are the norm now and that people have no choice to but to cut the cable lines and go to other alternatives.

Manuel Morales says:

September 10, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Matt and Ted remind me of Michael and Dwight from the office. Best comedians in the room in their own mind. Is is any wonder that a bunch of yocals who sting cable lines from power lines employ these 2 dunces to run their Trade Group. It’s sort of sad. But dealing with these ACA members and their hack attorneys at CM in numerous negotiations it doesn’t surprise me. The group would be much better off with a leadership change that injects more wired in folks. Broadcasters should be thankful the ACA employs these 2.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    agreed

    Sandy Hinkle says:

    September 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Actually, the Office was one of the few remaining good shows on broadcast tv…but alas… Well, we may be dunces, and I’ll grant you that, but then again we didn’t lose the spectrum fight, the retrans fight at the FCC, the retrans fight on STELA in the House, and have a bipartisan bill introduced to make broadcast channels a la carte. So, I agree with you that we may not be as smart as anonymous broadcasters who hide behind insults and who say they are for TV freedom when they are denying it to consumers, but we’ll take our chances. Follow me @MATTatACA

    Ellen Samrock says:

    September 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Don’t kid yourself. Cable would be dire straights too if it weren’t for King Obama and his court lackey Tom “the Cable Guy” Wheeler taking special aim at television broadcasters. As it is, cable is dead last in subscriber satisfaction. Maybe you guys should work on cleaning up your customer service act instead of trying to shirk your responsibility to pay broadcasters for the use of their signals from which you’ve managed to enrich yourselves.

    Sandy Hinkle says:

    September 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

    That’s such a classic “woe is me” broadcaster line coming from an industry that has had its way for decades and threatened carnage unless you were certain the policy was “Nothing Against Broadcasters”…get it, NAB? Truth is, consumers have moved on from you and they are enjoying more something you don’t provide…broadband. And you like all else equate our members with Comcast, and nothing is further from the truth. You just like to paint us with the same brush. But whatever…

    kristin serman says:

    September 12, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I am not a tv guy or a broadcaster I am a citizen but I can tell you that there is not opposition to a la carte. If anything there is folks wanting some sort of a la carte if it is for broadcasts channels , or the entire bundle.
    Folks want to have the right to choose where they get their broadcast stations from, what channels they want to drop from their bundle from religion, music, sports, cable news, cartoons. I can also tell you folks out there want National Feeds of Networks no local news just network programming, sports (NFL, NBA, MLB etc.) and they want the nightly news and a filler programming to fill the rest of the time periods.
    The demand is there for it they don’t like the current system because it is outdated and big corporate interests, providers, and wall street barons (read different articles) they are the winners in the current system while the rest of us average folks are left to scratching our heads wondering what is going on.
    That is why we need change because we should move into the 21st Century with television and the laws not living in a system that was good 25 or so years ago. Canada has a better system than we do and that is really shameful it’s time to put the consumer and viewer first by working together to put the best free market choice system that will attract viewers and customers to it.
    (just read different articles) are the big winners in the current system.

    kristin serman says:

    September 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I hate to break it to you but it’s Republicans that are proposing a lot of these laws that are coming down the pike. They want a total free market system that benefits the consumer and gives them to choice to choose the channels they want. I think it will happen because Democrats are starting to sound the alarm that the system doesn’t work and hurts the average citizen.

Don Thompson says:

September 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm

After reading these comments, I’m sure NAB CEO Gordon Smith has you in mind when he talks about the “soul of the broadcaster.” ………………… Please follow me on Twitter @TedatACA

Michael Lam says:

September 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Local Choice was a cynical attack on broadcasters. Everyone knows the cable industry wouldn’t have answered the phone for the tens of millions of people who would’ve had to call, then “broadcasters aren’t so popular anymore” benefitting cable ad-supported programming networks. Profound legislative conflict of interest that would’ve wrecked the broadcast industry. Great job NAB!

    kristin serman says:

    September 12, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I disagree Local Choice is not perfect but it’s better than the current system which I have 2 stations blacked out going on 3 months now and the local channels still have not responded to the proposal according to the local paper. It took them 25 days to respond to Dish’s last proposal according to the paper.
    This station’s manager also admitted that they want an 8x increase for their programming instead of the 6x that Dish claims they want.
    That is acceptable practices to not negotiate not respond to contract offers , want more money and then finally respond due to NFL Football season. If that is a good system it may be good in third world countries but not here in America. That is why congress started the discussion with local choice it’s not going away as I stated it’s coming back in larger form along with other bills being proposed that the NAB and the stations won’t like.
    More than 1 of these bills will pass and be signed and that is bad news for broadcasters because folks are getting fed up not only as citizens but the politicians are getting fed up as well.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 13, 2014 at 3:24 am

    With all due respect – and not pointed at you, %’s are BS. Here’s why. If someone is paying 0.1 cent and they go to 0.2 cents, that is a 100% increase. Broadcast started at $0 several years ago, yet cable channels that are viewed much less started much higher. So Dish was paying the station .12 cents and wants to pay them 6x, or .72 cents. The Broadcaster wants 8x or .96 cents. And while this is going on, ESPN is getting $6.04 from you, ESPN2 is getting .74 and the NFL Network is getting $1.17. Perhaps they should have held the line there. Also, I feel sorry for you as Dish and TWC are responsible for over 50% of the blackouts. Dish is slightly cheaper than DirecTV, but you pay for those pennies in savings with increased blackouts during re-negotiations. Perhaps you should look to switch.

    kristin serman says:

    September 13, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Switching isn’t the answer all switching does is encourage the broadcaster as in the case here in Maine to keep pulling their behavior because they have a history of doing this to every provider.
    What we need is reforms that allow folks the choice to not only drop unpopular cable channels but also allow them to get their network stations from the region they live in.
    Also allowing National Network Feeds the network shows, nightly news, and the sports programs
    (NFL, MLB, NBA etc). Does anyone believe that folks won’t purchase these channels if they weren’t offered that choice. The facts is the system is in the 20th century and Canada has better laws on tv than we do and that is sad. Broadcasters and Providers should be working together to get increased viewers instead of playing games that hurt consumers.

Don Thompson says:

September 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

TV stations are already a la carte ———————– Just because the price of local TV for antenna users is zero does not make it any less an a la carte offering ————- Government created the basic cable tier and forced cable consumers to buy it ————— The bizarre idea that retransmission consent is good law until TV stations say otherwise is nothing short of intellectual anarchy and an affront to the people’s democratic right to seek peaceful change —————— Something tells me you’ll be more than late for dinner searching for a copy of the Federalist Papers at NAB headquarters ———————— Please follow me on Twitter @TedatACA

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Cable Systems will be history and everything will be a la carte over the web prior to a la carte on a cable system. Considering that for 2013, Video was 57% of TWC Revenue, 50% of Comcast Revenue, 49.4% of Charter’s Revenue and 58% of Cablevision’s Revenue, wonder how your ACA member would react with 50%+ of their revenue gone?———————— Please follow me on Twitter @NotTedatACA

Sandy Hinkle says:

September 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I’ve really just come to the conclusion that broadcasters spout the same old tired lines year after year just to avoid change and accountability. You believe you are above it all and should be kept separate from consumer demands, regulatory oversight or any new laws, despite how the market and consumers change. You pull out ACA quotes from years ago when our broadband world didn’t exist to make the tired argument that you think ACA isn’t for full a la carte or more choices for consumers. You say local choice lost, when the author of the legislation said he plans to bring it up again and pass it. Oh well… Yet, you don’t answer when we ask — Sinclair filed with the FCC to ask for conditions on Comcast/TWC because Sinclair said retrans wasn’t a fair or free market? Do you agree with sinclair? Silence. You don’t answer when we ask — how could it be TV freedom if you are not allowing the consumer to choose? Silence. In this case, your silence signifies consent. I see it, and I can tell you that many others in DC and around the country do too.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    September 11, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Others have asked legit questions to many of your postings here. What do we hear….Silence? In your words “your silence signifies consent.” From now on when you do not defend yourself but only answer with other questions, we will denote [email protected] 9/11/2014 “Silence signifies consent”. Thanks for making it easy!!!!


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