|Jim Goodmon Appears Before US House Subcommittee on Retransmission of Broadcast Signals License|
Capitol Broadcasting Company President and CEO Jim Goodmon spoke before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives Hearing on the Copyright Licensing Regimes covering retransmission of broadcast signals license. Goodmon informed the Subcommittee that new technology will soon be available that will enable consumers who subscribe to satellite delivered broadcast to receive their local television signal via satellite.
Satellite providers, such as DirecTV, USSB, PrimeStar, and EchoStar would be able to offer consumers packages that would include local television stations in their designated market area (DMA). “Local TV on Satellite” will keep DBS fully competitive with cable on a nationwide basis, overcoming the primary obstacle for DBS in the consumer market: the lack of local television signals. It also will enable DBS subscribers to receive locally originated programming such as local weather, news, sporting and charity events, and public affairs programming, all of which serves the public interest.
Statement of Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. Before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives Hearing on the Copyright Licensing Regimes Covering Retransmission of Broadcast Signals License October 30, 1997
Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to appear at today’s hearing. I am James F. Goodmon, President of Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc., and I have recently been appointed to President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Broadcasters. My family has been in the broadcast business since 1937. Capitol Broadcasting Company is proud to be a part of the broadcasting industry, and has grown over the years along with the industry. Last year, we were the first broadcaster in the nation to receive an authorization for an experimental high definition television station from the Federal Communications Commission. The high definition television station operates as WRAL-HD.
Today, Capitol Broadcasting Company is a diversified communications company that owns and operates radio and television stations WRAL-TV and WRAL-FM in Raleigh, North Carolina and WJZY-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina market. In addition to its radio and television holdings, Capitol Broadcasting Company owns a number of subsidiaries that are engaged in other innovative communications services. Our subsidiary, Microspace Communications Corporation, is the largest provider of broadcast data and audio satellite services in the world. Other subsidiaries include Capitol Information Systems, Inc., which provides high-speed connections to the Internet and graphic design services for Internet sites, and Capitol Sports Network, which provides play-by-play coverage of college football and basketball games, coaches’ shows, and NFL and NASCAR coverage. Capitol Broadcasting Company also owns two minor league baseball teams. One of the teams, the Durham Bulls Baseball Club, Inc., will become a AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devilrays in 1998. On September 6, 1997, WRAL-HD broadcast the first college football game in digital television via satellite.
With Capitol’s experience in broadcasting and satellite services, we have recognized the need to provide DBS subscribers with local television stations on their DBS reception systems. In its Report on Retransmission of Broadcast Signals (August 1, 1997), the Copyright Office stated that it “recogniz[ed]… that the technology for retransmitting local signals via satellite is not widely available.” My primary purpose today is to inform you that the technology for retransmitting local signals via satellite is now available. “Local TV Satellite” is our plan to distribute via satellite all over-the-air, full power, commercial and noncommercial television stations within a given station’s designated market area (“DMA”), as defined by Nielsen.
We intend to make available to Direct Broadcast Satellite (“DBS”) providers, such as DirecTV, USSB, PrimeStar, and EchoStar, the opportunity to market a local station package to consumers located within those stations’ DMAs. Local television stations that choose to participate in our plan will be compensated for making their broadcast signals available for rebroadcast. Local TV on Satellite will combine local television stations into a market-by-market package for distribution to the DBS providers. The DBS providers will include individual market packages within their programming services and the particular local station signals made available to a subscriber will be determined by the subscriber’s address.
Our engineers have developed a technical plan, using spotbeam technology, that will make Local TV on Satellite operational in the year 2000. We would operate a satellite in the Ka-band with 61 spotbeams that can cover the continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. We intend to locate the satellite at an as yet undefined orbital slot between 101 degrees and 119 degrees and we anticipate a satellite with a 12-year life. We plan for 159 regional sites from which stations located in the same geographic area would be uplinked. Under our plan, consumers will be able to receive all of the current DBS signals, as well as the local television signals with one 24-inch dish. We have issued our Request for Quotation (“RFQs”) to manufacturers for construction of the satellite and its sub-systems, and are currently reviewing the responsive RFQs with our selection expected to be made in early 1998. At the same time, we are directing significant attention to developing a sound business plan to permit this project to be brought to fruition in the most expedient manner. Again, we expect Local TV on Satellite to be operational by the year 2000. Phase 1 of Local TV on Satellite is expected to accommodate 1700 NTSC signals and HDTV prime time and special event network feeds.
I would like to note at this time that, while we will need legislation to get this project “off the ground,” I am not here today for the purpose of presenting legislation or seeking legislation. We are developing the specific legislation that we believe to be necessary and intend to submit the proposed legislation at the commencement of the next Congressional session in January 1998. We are mindful of your busy schedules, but will seek passage of the legislation at that time.
We have shared our plan with the DBS and broadcast industries in order to confirm the need for our project, as well as to determine that we could achieve sufficient interest by broadcasters in making their signals available for this purpose and DBS providers in marketing local signals. We have discussed our project with each of the current high-powered DBS providers. And, we have made presentations to The Association for Maximum Service Television, Inc., (“MSTV”) and The National Association of Broadcasters (“NAB”), as well as many television group owners.
We believe our project is unique because we plan to carry ALL full-powered television stations in ALL markets. We, as well as many other broadcasters, believe it is imperative that if one station within a market is carried by a satellite provider, then all stations within that market must be carried. Our plan to carry ALL television stations in ALL markets is consistent with the comments submitted by The Network Affiliated Stations Alliance (“NASA”) and the NAB in the proceedings on retransmission of broadcast signals before the Copyright Office. In its comments, NASA stated, “no changes should be made in the copyright statute for extension of the compulsory license to satellite companies unless it is accompanied by a statutory must carry requirement.” NASA Comments at 27. Similarly, NAB said, “Congress could condition the availability of a compulsory license for the satellite retransmission of television stations into their local markets on the carriage of all stations licensed to the market.” NAB Comments at 11.
Finally, from a public policy standpoint, our plan is good for consumers because it will give them more choices in the multichannel video programming distributors’ (“MVPD”) with cable on a nationwide basis because we intend to provide ALL local television stations in ALL markets. Indeed, market research shows that the primary obstacle for DBS in competition with cable is the lack of local television signals on DBS. Our plan solves this problem. Furthermore, our plan will enable DBS subscribers to receive locally originated programming, such as local weather, local news, local sporting and charity events, and public affairs programming, all of which serves the public interest.
I thank you for having given me the opportunity to tell you about Local TV Satellite.