The FCC’s 1996 requirement that stations air three hours a week of educational or informational programming was well meaning, but its later expansion to each of a station’s subchannels has proven to be overreach, rendered moot by the explosion of sources of such programming. It’s time the FCC let the diginets stick to their intended brands of programming.
The spirits and bottom lines of broadcasters should be buoyed by the technology and policy cards they are being dealt when it comes to ATSC 3.0. If the simulcast-based channel-sharing proposal before the FCC is adopted, TV broadcasters will have the tools they need to make the transition while continuing to deliver their main channel and popular diginets as legacy DTV channels — if they can cooperate. This is the third installment of a three-part Multicasting Special Report. Part 1 appeared Tuesday morning, Part 2 on Wednesday morning. You can read all the stories here.
That’s the goal of Steve Schiffman, Lonnie Cooper, John Ford and Barry Wallach who are moving the Justice Network diginet in that direction since its launch in 2015. It’s now at about 60% U.S. coverage. To fill its programming grid, Justice has tapped into a vast reservoir of low-cost “factual” crime shows originally produced for cable over the past decade-and-a-half in addition to two originals. Above, John Walsh, the public face of the network, with Sergeant Ralph Woolfolk of the Atlanta Police Department. (Justice Network photo by Ray Sullivan.) This is the second installment of a three-part Special Report. Part 1 appeared Tuesday morning, while Part 3 on technology will run Thursday before noon ET. You can read all the stories here.
While diginets still have some hurdles to face — such as rising program license fees — they have captured the attention of general-market advertisers and they are looking forward to the rollout of the upcoming ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard with its expanded capacity. What’s more, the multicast networks are relieved that the FCC’s incentive auction and ongoing repack of the TV band isn’t affecting their station carriage deals to any significant extent.