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Posts tagged: FCC

Explaining the Supreme Court ruling on corporations having no privacy right

Those of us who've already read the full 15-page opinion by the Supreme Court on the AT&T argument that corporations have some level of “personal privacy,” will want to look elsewhere for something to do.

For others who wonder how the court could have established two different ideas — that corporations (in the Citizens United ruling from 2010) have a right of free speech and that they don't have a personal level of privacy (in the March 1 ruling, FCC vs. AT&T) — should spend some time with a good legal blog.

Let us recommend the down-the-middle blog views of Scotusblog.com. Its entry from today gives a quick overview of the facts. Nicer yet, the blog post links to about a dozen helpful sources with additional comments on the case.

Can DirecTV afford to lose any more area TV customers?

Fox carried the Super Bowl this year and for at least one weekend, DirecTV customers in this area were able to watch and not have to resort to desperate measures.  Some fans have already jumped ship, during a monthlong blackout of the KAYU Fox signal, due to a dispute between the broadcast station and DirecTV, based in Los Angeles.

The two firms have set a monthlong ceasefire. It remains to be seen if the dispute — over how much cash DirecTV pays to Northwest Broadcasting, which runs KAYU and stations in four other markets — will be settled in the next 25 days.

Here's a relevant fact: Dish Network and Comcast far outnumber DirecTV for TV subscribers in the Spokane TV market. The very helpful MediaCensus datafile, from Mediabiz.com, provides this snapshot for paid-TV subscribers in the Spokane DMA (which covers from parts of Montana to central Washington):

NUMBERS are from 3rd Quarter 2010

Dish: 102,000

Comcast: 100,000

DirecTV: 69,000

DirecTV's marketing folks know that the blackout threatens to send customers to the other guys. They've already begun making nice to some who have paid hundreds of dollars to terminate their contracts with the satellite provider.

A company spokesman said customers who left during the KAYU dispute and who choose to come back now, will have their termination fees waived. Or they'll credit the fees paid to leave DirecTV back to the customer's account.

The spokesman also said it won't reveal how many customers have bailed from the Spokane market since the blackout started Jan. 1.

Those who return will also not face a brand new contract. The deal means: if a person left with 12 months still on a contract, coming back will put that customer right back at the 12 months-remaining point, instead of a brand new two-year deal.

 

 

 

Revised post: KAYU-Time Warner fee dispute in North Idaho may be longest blackout ever

Still no news on when the long, 28-day retransmission payment dispute affecting DIRECTV customers will end.

This is no fun for customers who are paying good money to DIRECTV and feel abused by the battle between DIRECTV and Northwest Broadcasting, which owns and operates KAYU, the Spokane Fox affiliate.

After quick research, we learned we were wrong in yesterday's post on the longest-lasting blackout.

Between December 2006 and February 2008, Spokane's own Northwest Broadcasting blacked out its signal for North Idaho Time Warner Cable subscribers. That 14-month stretch is the apparent longest recent signal denial.

In recent memory, the longest blackout occurred between January and December 2005, nearly a full year.

That was between Cable One, a southwest cable operator, and Nextstar Broadcast, which operated several stations in Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.

Washington signs off on the Comcast-NBC merger

We saw a press release from the Washington Attorney General's office today. It said Rob McKenna and several other state AGs have formally agreed to the U.S. Department of Justice settlement that allows Comcast to merge with NBC Universal.

What we're not sure about is whether any of the states raised any issues that weren't already addressed by consumer groups, media companies and public interest entities.

The release sent by the McKenna office doesn't list any one or two major points that the AGs collectively made a big deal out of.

Today was also the day the real decision took place, in Washington, D.C., when the FCC formally gave its approval to the media merger, which will create a mammoth conglomerate with a trove of media content, along with the nation's largest cable system (not to mention being one of the nation's biggest Internet service providers, providing the system that is the primary way many will get entertainment and news).

A full summary of the agreement is at FCC.gov.

One of the several key points in the approval required that localism become a major focus for the merged media company. That agreement says:  “To further broadcast localism, Comcast-NBCU will maintain at least the current level of news and information programming on NBC’s and Telemundo’s owned-and-operated (“O&O”) broadcast stations, and in some cases expand news and other local content.

NBC and Telemundo O&O stations also will provide thousands of additional hours of local news and information programming to their viewers, and some of its NBC stations will enter into cooperative arrangements with locally focused nonprofit news organizations.  Additional free, on-demand local programming will be made available as well.”

We believe that means we'll see a gain in local news and information programming from stations like KHQ and from the local government-public access channels provided here by Comcast.

KAYU’s over-the-air signal and how it can help find a blackout solution

There is a way to work-around the KAYU transmission blackout continuing in much of the area, affecting households subscribing to DIRECTV. But it's not simple and not a sure thing for many affected viewers.

It comes down to getting DIRECTV to assign your home an alternate Fox Broadcasting signal from another market, like Los Angeles, instead of from Spokane's KAYU.  You will have to call DIRECTV and convince them that you live in an area not likely to receive an over-the-air signal from KAYU's Spokane antenna.

This map, found at the FCC, displays a projected area where the signal can generally be counted on to be decent. In general, outside this area within the radius, you have the option. If you live inside the area, you may still be eligible for the work-around. But you would have to live in an area with unusually challenging terrain limitations.

Also: if you are in an area which has a signal repeater, you may seem to be eligible based on the map, but in fact will be considered ineligible to apply for a different network signal.

If you've already done so, leave a comment here to explain whether the phone process needed to accomplish that goal is easy or hard. 

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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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