BC DC

WLOX Takes On SHVERA

8/10/2009 03:07:51 PM

While network affiliate groups work the halls of Congress over the SHVERA bill to reauthorize satellite broadcasters’ blanket license to deliver distant network signals, one station is taking a local approach to lobbying legislators on the law.

Raycom’s WLOX has an editorial on its Website saying some members of Congress and “national conglomerates” want to devalue local TV for the benefit of cable and satellite companies.

The station includes links to its viewers’ representatives’ Websites and urges them to “tell your neighbors and let your representatives hear from you.”

The editorial asks viewers to tell those reps not to redraw Nielsen markets and to require cable and satellite providers to deliver every local TV station in every market in the country.

The first is not likely to happen, according to a draft version of the House SHVERA bill circulated several weeks ago. But broadcasters and satellite operators are expected to work out an agreement that will deliver local TV signals into all 210 TV markets.

WLOX pulls out all the stops in making its case for the value of local TV:

“It honors local heroes who help those less fortunate and fills a void that may be missing in all of our communities. It sends a call to action to raise money to help fund important research. It makes our locally elected officials accountable for their actions. It keeps you up to date on all of the events around town. It gives you options and choices on the best way to live your life. Ask yourself: where would you be without local TV?”

Satellite and cable operators would, and do, argue that they would simply be providing more local TV, not less. But duplicating network affiliations in a market could diminish the audience for incumbents and give broadcasters less leverage in retransmission consent negotiations, a growing second revenue stream for a medium whose first revenue stream has, in many cases, become a trickle.

One of the reasons some in Congress would like to redraw those Nielsen markets is that many cross state lines, meaning that legislators’ campaign ad buys are wasted on viewers who can’t vote in their state.

While WLOX links to its op-ed piece with the heading, “Learn the Facts,” it misses the mark a tad. The editorial is headed with the underlined statement, “SHVERA Stands for: Satellite Home Viewer Extension Revision Act.” It actually stands for “Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act,” though that name will likely change this go-around.

For those who have been following the creation process of the SHVERA name–and who hasn’t?–it began as SHVA (Satellite Home Viewers Act) before growing to SHVIA (Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act) and most recently into the current SHVERA. As drafted, the proposed House bill would replace that with a new name and alphabet soup of initials, (SHVDTA) the Satellite Home Viewer Digital Television Act of 2009.

Personally, I like WLOX’s version. It hits the mark, since the old bill had to be revised to reflect the move to digital. And it has the advantage of preserving the much easier to pronounce SHVERA acronym.

March