NBC’s hit show Blindspot is growing even larger with the live+3 and live+7 ratings. For the final week of October, Blindspot grew 62%! That is a huge jump. The show lifted from a 2.15 to a 3.49 rating, jumping from 7.9 million to 12 million viewers. The 4.1 million viewer increase was the biggest lift of the night, beating out hit shows such as, Big Bang Theory (3.9 million lift) and Supergirl (3.1 million lift) both on CBS. The week prior to last, Blindspot‘s live+3 rating lift of 4.2 million was broadcast television’s biggest live+3 ratings lift of the entire week.
I have a feeling that once Monday Night Football comes to a close next year, the live ratings for Blindspot (assuming they stick with the Monday night 10pm time slot) will get a lift. I think a portion of the viewers are holding off and waiting for DVR because of the Monday Night Football competition.
I also find it interesting that the creators of the show already have an ending mapped out. They are prepared for cancellation (which at this point seems highly unlikely) and have the story all planned out in case they don’t receive a second season. This is the number 1 scripted show for NBC, so I can see the network green lighting a season 2 early on in the spring. I think it is good for the fans to know that the creators care enough about the show and the story that they already have a complete road map designed just in case… but something tells me Blindspot isn’t going anywhere.
In case of cancellation: http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/blindspot-series-ending-mapped-out-in-case-of-cancellation-39395/
“Blindspot” seems to have hit its average. The past few weeks in the ratings have been somewhat of a rollercoaster, with the ratings increasing and decreasing. The steady stream has seemed to hit an even baseline. This week, the rating was a 2.1 with 7.91 million viewers. This is a .1 drop from last week’s ratings. It was the top rated program in the 10 P.M. time slot among all the major networks.
I also wanted to point out some interesting information I got from an article published in Variety this week. The article was a series scorecard for all of the new shows. “Blindspot” was pointed out as the top freshman series out of all the network’s new launches.
The show has slightly declined in live ratings since its premiere. But that is pretty normal for a show to open high and slightly decline. The key to the show’s success in the ratings is the DVR/VOD audience. “Blindspot” is the new fall show with the biggest DVR and VOD playback. The pilot episode premiered to 10.61 million viewers, but lifted to 16.59 million viewers. With an additional 5.98 million viewers, the lift was the highest among all network shows.
In the television business, distribution is the key component in making content accessible and viewable by consumers on traditional and new platforms. Distribution is not only the way programming reaches audiences, but is a large component of programmers and distributors business models.
Traditionally TV distribution used to be much simpler; it was primarily through TV and consumed on the TV set. In this old media structure there were barriers to reaching consumers, (you would have to own a network or have a program carried by one). Today broadband allows for video content to be carried and viewed on the web. Countless individuals and companies can now reach viewers in new ways with all types of video content.
Television is still the primary way people consume video but new devices and new content are beginning to change consumers viewing behavior. Viewers can watch traditional TV or now have the option to aggregate their favorite videos through many new options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or TV Everywhere and watch them on their TV, or a tablet, phone or computer. The rise of new platforms to distribute TV content through DVR and VOD plus online viewership has resulted in a number of exciting developments for programmers and distributors, as well as real threats and challenges.
Right now television content distribution can be broken down into three categories: traditional distributors, new challenging distributors, and programmers that try to take advantage of all avenues of distribution. Programmers now distribute through the traditional multi-channel operators (Time Warner), phone companies (Verizon & AT&T) and satellite distributors (like Dish and DirectTV) and new avenues like apps, TV Everywhere through a cable operator or digital offerings like Netflix.
Traditional Distributors in the TV Market
MSO’s, satellite, and phone companies are actively trying to delve into the growing market of cross platform viewing and video streaming. A recent development is TV Everywhere.
Comcast successfully released Xfinity on demand and struck deals with cable networks, broadcasters, and pay TV to stream their content online for Comcast subscribers. Applications like TV Everywhere are being released by a multitude of distributors, allowing consumers to stream their carried programming on any tablet, phone or computer. Time Warner now has TWC TV and Cablevision has TVtoGO. Phone companies also provide online streaming; Verizon streams FiOS TV and AT&T streams U-verse.
In February, DirectTV joined the online game and released DirectTV Everywhere. For traditional distributors, “TV Everywhere” has become an important part of their distribution model. But their applications have a lot of competition coming from Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon which offer library’s of content and more recently original or exclusive programming.
Rising Challengers to Traditional Distributors
The development of broadband as a vehicle for video has spurred huge entrepreneurial investment in companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube as well as user-generated content. Traditional distributors are being challenged by new online distribution channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV, and Google (YouTube). These distributors are offering very appealing services to consumers and at low costs (Netflix & HuluPlus: both $8 a month and Amazon Prime $79/ yearly), or in the case of the web, Google or YouTube for free (you only need to have broadband). In addition, there is easy access through many devices like the computer, Xbox, iPad, etc with a wide range of content. We know this is appealing to consumers since Netflix recently grew to almost 28 million subscribers.
For the past few years Netflix, Amazon and HuluPlus have provided old shows, almost like a library service. This year Netflix shook up its programming strategy when it released original content “House of Cards”. They did what no distributor or programmer has done before: presenting an entire television series “House of Cards” to subscribers upfront. The viewer can than choose to watch the show all at once or at their own pace instead of once a week. In some ways, this strategy makes Netflix a competitor to HBO and cable channels. It also has blurred the lines as to what kind of company Netflix is: a distributor or original programmer? Further following a similar lead, Amazon is now promoting that they have exclusive content that you can only find and watch on Amazon.
Apple’s release of the Apple TV has further blurred the lines of traditional distribution; offering the perks of online streaming and TV together. Further Hulu Plus and other services are offered on the Apple TV . These advancements have changed how the media works and how television content is distributed to consumers. Netflix offering original content, the Apple TV, Hulu Plus and Amazon’s exclusive content offerings shows how fast things are transforming in the distribution and video content business
TV Programming Distribution Strategies
Broadcast and cable networks, to stay competitive, have been dabbing into online streaming, tablet apps, and phone applications. Most cable networks do their best to offer applications that distribute some recent episodes, behind the scenes clips, best of clips, etc. However cable networks tend to limit the amount of long-form content because the distributors they partner with would not pay them as high of a sub fee for their programming. A critical part of the business model for cable programming services is maintaining a strong sub fee with distributors.
Cable channels like A&E, Discovery, History, Lifetime and many others have iPad applications. Disney offers “Watch” to stream ESPN and Disney Channel to computers and other devices . Recently on the broadcast side, broadcasters have been making more content available on their websites and through services like Hulu. Since broadcast don’t rely on sub fees they have been much more aggressive in moving their content to other platforms than cable. And just this month ABC and CBS both came out with tablet applications to stream their television series.
Distributors have been and must adapt to new technologies, platforms and consumer demands. Despite the buzz that cable and broadcast are “dying mediums,” the Neilson graph below shows that while online viewership is increasing, people are still consuming a large percent of content on the TV set.
The real measure of the success of TV distributors will be how well their offerings satisfy consumer interests in viewing content how and when they want too. If the traditional distributors don’t provide it, new companies like Netflix and Apple will meet that demand.
Fox Television, owned by News Corp, is one of the “Big Four” television broadcasters in the United States, and also owns a wide portfolio of cable properties domestically. Fall 2012 was a busy time for many areas of the business.
In May 2012, Fox Television reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting to renew the Fox affiliations on 19 Sinclair owned stations for five years. As part of the agreement, Sinclair paid $25 million for the Fox affiliation on WBFF in Baltimore, as well as an option to purchase the Fox owned and operated station in Baltimore, WUTB, by March 31, 2013. The station had served as leverage for Fox when negotiating with Sinclair, since Fox would threaten pulling the Baltimore Fox affiliation from Sinclair’s flagship, WBFF, and switching to their own WUTB. WUTB is the MyNetwork affiliate in Baltimore, and was unique as the only MyNetwork station owned in the Fox television portfolio. 
On November 29, 2012, Sinclair exercised the option to purchase WUTB, paying an additional $2.7 million. Because Sinclair owns WBFF in Baltimore, the sale is between Fox Television corporate, and a third party Deerfield Communications, controlled by sole shareholder Stephen Mumblow. Sinclair will control the station through operations contracts with Deerfield. Sinclair will also owe an additional $25 million to Fox, unless Fox exercises an option to acquire certain stations from Sinclair’s current portfolio. WUTB is the third Sinclair controlled station in Baltimore, as they also control the CW station, WNUV, owned by Cunningham Broadcasting- which is owned by the children of Sinclair’s shareholders. 
Fox Owned and Operated Stations Receive Uniform Graphics and Music Update
The Fox owned and operated stations (17 stations) rolled out a uniform graphics update for locally produced programming during the first week of November, 2012. The changes are for show and segment openings, as well as lower third graphics. The Fox rectangular logo has largely been replaced with the Fox name, and appears with 3D and circular elements. The standard music package has also been slightly adjusted. Finally, Fox owned stations have standardized the practice of showing reporter’s Twitter handles, rather than email addresses under their name on air.  
Nexstar Broadcasting announced the completion of a deal November 5, 2012 to purchase Fox affiliate WFFF in Burlington, VT from Smith Media. Nexstar agreed to pay $17.1 million for WFFF and sister station WVNY, an ABC affiliate. Mission Broadcasting is also involved in the transaction due to media ownership laws. The FCC is expected to approve the transaction in the first quarter of 2013. Upon completion of the deal,Utica,NYNBC affiliate WKTV will be the only television station still owned by Smith Media. 
While Burlington, VT is DMA 97, it is an important market because it reaches a substantial Canadian market not counted in its DMA size. This includes Montreal, a city with ten times more population than the entire Burlington DMA. Canadian cable operators carry WFFF in the southern Quebec province as their Fox station.
4 Northwest Broadcasting Fox Stations Pulled From Dish Network
Northwest Broadcasting pulled four Fox affiliate stations off of Dish Network after retransmission renewal negotiations broke down on November 26, 2012 over a dispute about rate increases. The stations affected are WICZ in Binghamton, NY; KMVU in Medford, OR; KFFX in Yakima, WA; and KAYU in Spokane, WA. After months of negotiations, a deal could not be reached, and the signals went dark to Dish Network customers.
The impasse comes only two months after a long blackout of the same stations ended with Dish competitor DirectTV. The Northwest- DirectTV battle lasted for over 22 months, and at times was hostile. 
LIN FOX Stations Almost Pulled From Charter
LIN TV threatened to pull two other Fox affiliates, WNAC in Providence, RI and WLUK in Green Bay, WI off of Charter Communications cable platforms if increased retransmission rates were not agreed to by November 29, 2012. Charter claimed that LIN was demanding 150% increases in fees.  At the last moment before the stations were scheduled to go dark, the two sides reached a deal for undisclosed terms. 
Fox O&O Stations Purchase Syndication Rights to Anger Management
Charlie Sheen stars in Anger Management on FX 
Fox owned and operated stations signed a syndication contract in October, 2012 to begin airing the FX sitcom Anger Management starring Charlie Sheen beginning in the fall of 2014. FX will retain the cable syndication rights sold by Lionsgate Television. Lionsgate’s television division plans to produce 90 episodes over the next two years in order to fulfill syndication requirements. This follows a model the company has used in the past to get syndication fees sooner. Anger Management averaged 4.5 million viewers per episode during its initial summer run; new episodes begin in January. 
Fox O&Os Purchase Rights to Veteran’s Day Parade
The 2012 NYC Veteran’s Day Parade aired on Fox Stations 
Fox owned stations came to an agreement with the Wounded Warriors Project for the television rights to the New York City Veteran’s Day Parade for the first time in 2012. Fox owned stations aired the parade live or tape delayed (depending on local NFL games) with cut-ins from Fox News cable network. The live showings of the parade aired Sunday November 11, from Noon until 3:30 Eastern time. 
Bethenny Frankel Daytime Show Picked up by Fox Owned Stations
Fox owned and operated stations have signed a syndication deal to air the daytime talk show Bethenny, hosted by former reality television star Bethenny Frankel, and executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres. The show was left for dead in 2012, after it failed to achieve Fall 2012 clearances, but Fox kept the show alive by airing it on six owned stations for a trial period of six weeks during the summer. The positive results gave enough of a sample and momentum for Warner Brothers Distribution to syndicate nationally in other markets. The show is expected to premiere in early 2013. 
On November 20, 2012, News Corp, agreed to purchase a 49% ownership stake in the YES Network. A specific price was not released, but analysts estimate the network to be valued at $3 billion. News Corp completed the deal with Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity Partners. The contract includes a path for Fox to increase its ownership stake to 80%. YES has rights to air New York Yankees baseball through 2042, and is expected to be used as leverage to increase retransmission rates and clearance for other Fox properties in the nation’s largest market and surrounding areas. 
Fox launches Saturday Night Football and Baseball
Erin Andrews Joined Fox to Anchor Sports Coverage 
For the first time in 2012, Fox aired weekly college football games on Saturday nights anchored by the popular Erin Andrews. Fox drew ratings as high as a 3.5 overnight, on a night previously ignored by networks and viewers. Fox also moved its Saturday afternoon baseball to Saturday nights, seeing ratings increases of over 25% for the season. 
Fox Denied in Suit Against Dish Network’s DVR
United States District Court ruled on November 29, 2012 against Fox Broadcasting in its attempt for an injunction against Dish Network’s advanced DVR and ad-skipping technology. The court found that Fox was not likely to succeed on the merits of copyright infringement against the DVR service, and that Fox had failed to show irreparable harm caused by the “quality assurance” ad-free copies made to show customers. 
Fox Joins with Dyle to bring Television to the iPad
Fox has joined a consortium of broadcasters to allow people to legally watch the Fox television network for free on their iPad. Called Dyle, the program requires an antenna adapter since the device does not use the internet, instead using television broadcast signals. The technology is improving, and is a large step towards bringing television to the iPad. 
1st Quarter Financial Data for News Corp.
News Corp’s 1st Quarter (July-Sept) financial data showed a slow start to the television year. Overall company revenues were up 2.2%, but operating income down .5% to $1.38 billion. The company reported higher than expected political advertising spending, and a more than doubling on average of retransmission rates, but also had a poor start to the network season ratings. The Fox broadcast network and owned and operated stations posted a 17.3% increase in operating income to $156 million, while Fox cable properties showed 23% increase in operating income to $953 million.
The scatter market was not robust as the company had hoped, and the Olympics siphoned off some potential revenue, but Fox is working towards its stated goal of a dual revenue stream of retransmission revenue and reverse affiliate compensation. A low- rated four game World Series and poor fall launches hurt the quarterly performance, but projections for the 2nd Quarter are more optimistic. 
Programming Overview: What Makes the TV World Go ‘Round?
The answer to the question above, is television programming. Television programming refers to the shows that are aired on television networks for the purpose of obtaining an audience. Television programs are essentially the vitamins that keep the television industry growing and flourishing from year to year. The skeleton that supports programming is advertising. With the exception of publically owned TV stations, television networks are heavily supported financially by the advertising space that they sell to various companies. Corporations such as Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, and GM, funnel billions of dollars into television advertising every year. Their dollars translate into :30 second or :60 second commercials where they advertise their product or service between and during programs. Nevertheless, going back to what makes the television industry an industry, programming is the necessary piece that provides the content for what we see projecting through our TV screens.
Programming however, is not a guaranteed moneymaker and/or success story. It is one of, if not the most risky elements of the television industry. No programmer knows what exactly makes a hit show, nor does a programmer know exactly what makes a show last. There are general formats and concepts that have proven to be successful, however no one can predict how well a program will thrive, until it hits the TV screens of consumers. Programming is a component within the television industry that is more complex than most would assume. Programs must be constantly innovating and portraying what audiences want to see, but at the same time how exactly does one do that? That responsibility essentially rests in the hands of a programmer.
The job of the individual programmer is to act as a cultural and social interpreter, soaking up as much information about the society as possible. This involves but is not limited too, researching the competition, studying previous hit shows, learning about what are the latest social trends, predicting new crazes, analyzing demographics and consumer behavior, listening to the latest news, and deciding what fits the brand of the particular company. All in all, programming is something that is essential to this industry, but must be carefully executed in order to make shows come into full fruition.
In the world of programming, there are a variety of different types of shows. The different shows in a specific category sometimes follow a general outline that has been successful for past programs, but some choose to manipulate the formula and go their own route. Overall, there are many genres of television shows, but there are four that are produced the most. 
The Sports Program
The first type of programming that is heavily produced are sports programs. Sports are a big business industry that is responsible for the production of many hours of programming footage for the various television networks (including both broadcast and cable). Sports programs include the coverage of tennis matches, soccer games, Monday Night Football, the NCAA basketball tournament, SportsCenter highlight shows, 30 for 30 documentaries, and a plethora of other types of sports coverage. This specific programming type is hugely seen within the TV industry due to the profitability of its market. Last year sports was a $422 billion dollar industry that TV was heavily apart of.
The second program type that is incredibly popular is the Drama. The television drama is scripted programming that incorporates fictional storylines. Dramatic programming is filled with suspense, cliffhangers, questions, and excitement. This category includes action dramas like Fox’s former hit series 24 all the way too soap-programming like ‘Revenge’. It is a common but yet expensive type of programming to produce.
The News Program
Thirdly, News programming is something that is seen all across the TV medium. The 4 big broadcast networks are responsible for many hours of both national and international news coverage. In addition to their programming, there are also various networks such as CNN and MSNBC that report news 24 hours a day.
The “Reality Show”
The last, but certainly not the least programming type that is widely used in the U.S. is the “reality show”. Reality shows are programs that are intended to portray real life from the perspective of a “fly on the wall.” Essentially these shows are depicting real people in real situations that are unscripted. Some of the most recent reality shows include Big Brother, The Bachelorette, Bad Girls Club-Cabo, and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
What’s the Latest?: Big Stories for Fall 2012 Programming
‘The Walking Dead’ Walks Up the Ratings Score Board
The Walking Dead is AMC’s hit show that is crushing records in its third season. The success of this show has been one of the biggest stories within programming for the fall 2012 quarter. The Walking Dead is “the first cable series to beat every other show of the fall broadcast season in the adults 18-49 rating” . This relatively new scripted series beat out seasoned vets ‘Modern Family’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, and ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Its midseason finale delivered a whopping 5.6 rating with a grand total of 15.2 million viewers. Additionally, ’The Walking Dead’ is reported to be the most mentioned show in cable programming. This groundbreaking new show has made historic strides, and shows no signs of letting up
During this quarter of the year, the east coast experienced a natural disaster by the name of ‘Hurricane Sandy’. This super storm led a path of 13 days worth of devastation, destroying communities, killing over 90 citizens and displacing record amounts of people . New York and New Jersey were among the states that were hit the hardest. New York city was crippled by the destruction of its transit system and gas shortage. In addition, areas of the city were left submerged under water, and many places of businesses were inaccessible. Inevitably the television industry faced major setbacks. CBS was forced to stop the filming of three of its programs, Elementary, the Good Wife, and Blue Bloods. Warner Brothers TV had to stop the filming of 7 of its shows, including the hit series’, ‘Person of Interest’ and ‘Gossip Girl’. Additionally, NBC had to halt the production of ’30 Rock’, ‘Law & Order: SVU’, ‘Smash’, and four of its programs . Hurricane Sandy was responsible for the loss of programming dollars within an industry that cannot afford to sacrifice large production costs. Sandy caused the production of programming to be immobilized thus overall affecting budgets and schedules for many networks.
The Affects of DVR’s & Lower Expectations on Programming
In the past, if a show was not posting successful ratings a network would be quick to cut its losses and replace it with a new show. However, this fall there has been two new trends that are closely tied to DVR’s and the attitudes of those who wield the scissors. This fall more than ever, people have been watching shows not during the immediate broadcast but rather at a later time. This fact alone presents some type of promise that a shows may be posting better ratings then one initially thinks. DVR’s have played a critical role in saving programming that might have otherwise been cut from the fall 2012 lineup. In addition to the direct affects of the DVR, networks appear to also be lowering their standards. Network programming executives are aware that there is a surplus of programming options for the TV consumer during this day an age. With that said, fall 2012 appears to be the quarter where they are taking this fact into account, and lowering their programming rating expectations. This trend coupled with the affects of DVR’s has possibly been the sole reason why poor performing shows like ‘The New Normal’ are still around .
Programming is the beauty of the industry; it is what makes people turn on a TV set. It is an element of the TV industry that mystifies many who study this field, because no one really knows what will make something work, but when it does it truly makes your mind tick and your heart flutter. The experience of watching your favorite show of all time is indescribable, but nothing beats being the mind behind giving that feeling to millions, a position I someday will be in.
Distribution refers to the means by which television programming is delivered to consumers. It is done through traditional means like Broadcast, Cable or Satellite television, or through newer means like Video on Demand (VOD), Digital Video Recording (DVR), and online Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services like HULU Plus and Netflix.
When it comes to overseeing and regulating of these different means of mass television distribution, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is the principle government agency in charge. Its jurisdiction covers the means of mass emerging television technologies at the intersection of telephone, internet, computing, and digital signals. .
via the FCC website (http://www.fcc.gov/logos)
Several events have been ongoing during this semester related to the regulatory and legal aspects of distribution include a satellite provider, Dish’s disputes with both cable and broadcast networks, and the FCC’s ongoing plans for an incentive auction to reclaim spectrum space for wireless operators.
Dish Network vs. AMC Networks
The Networks’ dispute started years earlier with Cablevision’s lawsuit against Dish over their Voom HD channel which Dish stopped carrying in 2008. AMC was spun off from Cablevision in 2011. In April 2012, Dish notified AMC that it would drop their channels and by July, when their contract expired, Dish removed AMC Network channels AMC, WEtv, IFC, and Sundance from its lineup .
The companies indicated different reasons for the dispute. AMC stated that DISH dropped its programming because it wanted to gain leverage in an unrelated lawsuit involving Cablevision and their Voom HD channel . DISH, conversely stated that the dispute was over “bundling,” in which big networks like AMC try to sell several of their channels, both high- and low-rated, to providers in a bundle to get a better price .
Image via Deadline website (http://www.deadline.com/tag/dish-network/)
By September, Dish’s 14 million subscribers had been without any AMC channels for more than two months and feared not be able to view the season premiere of the AMC hit show, The Walking Dead, set to premiere October 14. Speaking on the dispute, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, Adam Shull stated that “The problem is they’re asking me to pay for four channels for really what is the price of three shows,” thus Dish wouldn’t be paying for any AMC shows .
On their part, AMC turned to social media in a quest to get their channels back on Dish, launching a YouTube video contest for angry Dish subscribers called “Hey DISH, Where’s my AMC?” .
The conflict would not be resolved until October 21 when Cablevision and AMC Networks settled their lawsuit with Dish Network for $700 million. The deal brought to end a dispute over whether Dish breached an affiliate agreement by terminating AMC’s Voom HD Network in 2008. At a trial that began in late September, AMC sought some $2.4 billion in damages from what it believed was Dish’s improper termination. Dish had defended itself by saying that it had the authority to cancel the Voom deal based on a contractual clause requiring Cablevision/AMC to invest $100 million per year on the channel. As part of the deal Dish also reached a new carriage agreement with AMC, bringing the network back to their lineup along with IFC, Sundance, and WEtv .
Dish Network’s AutoHop vs. Broadcasters
Image via Dish Network Website (http://godish.com/)
Another battle Dish Network has been involved in pertains to the AutoHop feature for its DVR systems, Hopper and Joey. Introduced in March, Autohop, an International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award Honoree, allows users who are watching Primetime Anytime recordings to completely skip commercials. When the user starts watching a recording, they are allowed to choose whether or not to skip commercials. Users who choose to skip the commercials move from segment to segment of TV shows without having to watch the ads . This feature has undoubtedly caused uproar with broadcasters, who depend on ad sales for a majority of their revenue.
In May, three of the major broadcasters (CBS, NBC, and Fox) filed suit against Dish Network in Los Angles, contending that the technology violated copyright law. Dish simultaneously filed a suit against ABC, CBS, and NBC in New York seeking a declaratory judgment affirming the legality of their technology . In documents filed August 22, Fox’s lawyer argued that AutoHop was in “violation of the express terms and conditions of its contracts with Fox and federal copyright law. Both parties argued their respective points of view in front of U.S. District Court judge, Dolly Gee, on September 21 in Los Angeles. On November 6, Gee denied Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction that would shut AutoHop down. Gee, in denying Fox said, “Although Dish defines some of the parameters of copying for time-shifting purposes, it is ultimately the user who causes the copy to be made.” She also pointed out that Fox hadn’t proved there would be “irreparable damage” if no injunction was issued. Any harm to Fox, she said, could be relieved by monetary damages. The judge did agree with Fox though that Dish had likely committed copyright infringement and broken the contract between the two companies in making copies of Fox programming for alleged quality assurance .
On November 9, Fox filed an appeal against the denial of its request for an injunction, moving the matter from the U.S. District Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District. More legal action from broadcasters followed on November 24 when ABC sought a preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan federal court to also block AutoHop .
The broadcasters’ reason for going after AutoHop is that it “will ultimately destroy the advertiser-supported ecosystem” they depend on for revenue . The networks make more than $19 billion a year in advertising, money that pays for the high cost of programming. Without advertising, network executives say, media companies would have to charge distributors three times the current rate for their signals, added costs which would be passed on to consumers. Dish, on its part, said that it believes that the AutoHop feature does not violate the networks’ copyrights. Instead, the company said AutoHop is simply an enhancement of existing ad-zapping technologies, and ultimately a matter of consumer choice .
FCC Incentive Spectrum Auction
Image via Cio website (http://www.cio.com/article/717594/FCC_Approves_Wireless_Spectrum_Incentive_Auction_Plan)
The FCC is a quasi-autonomous commission that has elements of each of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. It is part of the group of independent regulatory agencies (see also the FAA, FTC, and SEC) . In its control of television, the FCC performs several distinct functions such as rulemaking, licensing, registration, adjudication, enforcement, and informal influence .
Last February, President Obama signed a law empowering the FCC to buy spectrum from broadcasters wishing to give it up and then turn around and auction it to wireless broadband carriers. The FCC is working on the implementing rules for the incentive auction — so-called because broadcasters have a cash incentive to give up their spectrum . They have hopes that the auction could begin as early as 2014, but have until September 2022 to conduct the sale and license the airwaves to wireless companies .
For the most part, full-service broadcasters with major network affiliations and newsrooms have said they have no interest in the incentive auction, preferring to hang on to their entire spectrum so they can offer new services. However, other broadcasters that are struggling see the incentive auction as a way to recoup some or all of their investments. Speculators have also entered the market, buying up marginal stations with the intention of selling their spectrum at a profit in the FCC auction .
Fall FCC Spectrum Auction News
September 07, 2012: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski set to release the FCC’s framework for the spectrum auction with target of having a report and order voted by mid-2013 and the auctions completed by the end of 2014 . Full article.
October 04, 2012: Chairman Genachowski said that the FCC will exceed its 300 MHz target for freeing up spectrum, a target the commission set in the National Broadban Plan . Full article.
November 13, 2012: An anonymous group of broadcasters interested in selling their TV spectrum in the incentive auction created the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition and tapped former Fox and Disney lobbyist Preston Padden to lead their efforts before the FCC as the commission writes rules for the auction . Full article.
December 03, 2012: FCC officials spelled out some financial options in a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP webcast, urging listeners to file comments as the commission works to write rules for the auction. The deadline for comments on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was extended to Jan. 25, with reply comments due March 26 . Full article.
With the auction yet to occur, there is more news to come. To stay updated, check out the FCC’s official website.