The FCC’s move to stream-only networks is being hailed as the “new wave of consumer choice,” but that’s a bit of a stretch.
The FCC is only trying to “improve” the broadcast industry by making its streaming rules more reasonable, not by allowing everyone to stream in the same room.
“Dolby-free” is just a catch-all for all those TV networks that aren’t streaming on a given day, and a new set of rules that would allow broadcast networks to stream on demand is being proposed.
That’s right, broadcasters are proposing a rule change that would give them full control over what content gets broadcasted in their networks.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is “Dollars for TV”?
The FCC has previously announced that it’s seeking comments on a proposal that would create a $20 billion “dollars-for-TV” fund.
The $20bn fund would fund the purchase of programming for broadcast networks and pay for “dynamic” programming such as online and mobile content, as well as traditional news and entertainment content.
That could include things like TV shows, movies, and sports, but not commercials.
The commission also wants to make the fund available to other broadcasters who want to use it to promote themselves on broadcast networks.
If you live in a rural area and have access to your local public broadcast station, you might be eligible for a discount on broadcast stations’ programs.
A proposal to allow local broadcast stations to sell ads through their local channels also has a lot of support, although the proposal has yet to be formally introduced.
How is it being used?
The proposal has already been passed by the FCC and is likely to go before the FCC later this year.
In a statement, the FCC says that “Dollar for TV” is “the single most important mechanism for the promotion of local TV.”
It would allow local broadcasters to sell advertising to the public through their stations, including through a mobile app, and could also provide local stations with more money from advertising revenue.
The idea has been backed by big media and advocacy groups such as the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, which is lobbying the FCC to include “Door No. 3” in its new rule.
But it hasn’t gained the kind of traction that other proposals, like a plan to let TV networks use digital advertising to promote their content, have.
The new proposal is being pushed by the Broadcast Industry Association, a trade group representing broadcasters, which claims it’s “a powerful tool to create local TV that is free and fair.”
The BIA is also calling for more flexibility for broadcast stations in their pricing, which could mean that local stations could make up to $5 million per year in advertising, with a ceiling of $50 million per broadcast station.
But the BIA’s proposal is limited in that it only addresses a portion of the cost of local broadcast programming.
“In our view, this proposal would do little to address the systemic barriers to access to local broadcast media,” the BIAC’s statement said.
How would it work?
The BII’s statement suggests that a network’s local broadcast station would be responsible for deciding whether to carry content from a particular broadcaster.
But that doesn’t mean that broadcasters would have to give up the ability to make their own programming available to the community.
If they want to sell the program on their own network, they would be able to do so, but the BII would still be responsible.
“The current structure of broadcast licensing is an inefficient, undemocratic system that discourages diversity and diversity-friendly programming from reaching local audiences,” the statement said, adding that it would not be “necessary” to change the licensing process.
What does this mean for the rest of the broadcast media industry?
The FCC said that it will also consider a proposal from the TV broadcasters’ trade group, the Association of Cable, Digital, Satellite, and Telecommunications Companies, which would allow for local broadcast networks that are affiliated with a specific TV station to offer the program.
That means if a local station wants to sell an ad for its local program, it would have a choice of selling it to a specific local station or making the ad available to local viewers via the internet or mobile app.
“We recognize that some communities will require additional measures, including additional content distribution, to be offered by local broadcasters,” the FCC said.
But this proposal could have some positive impacts.
“If you have a local broadcast that offers a particular program, you can sell that same program on your own local network,” the Commission said.
“Additionally, the proposal could create more diversity in the broadcast landscape by allowing local stations to distribute a program that would otherwise not have been available on the same network.”
And it would be more likely that broadcasters could use their platform to promote other local content that isn’t covered by the broadcast license, such as free movies and TV shows that are available online.