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Does the viewer have the right to free TV?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/11/2013 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The FCC can't force Fox to keep 'Glee' on its free over-the-air broadcast signal

If the reader may recall in an earlier story posted here on Catholic online, a new service called Aereo is threatening TV broadcasters' revenues. This startup company wants to steam over-the-air TV signals without paying the broadcast networks. In retaliation, Univision's leader threatened about leaving free broadcast TV to join pay cable. TV is typically thought of as a free gift courtesy of the paid advertising - but the question arises: Does ANYONE have the right to free television programming? 

So -- if you watch 'American Idol' and 'Sabado Gigante' for free using an antenna, do you have a right to demand government action to keep them on your TV?

So -- if you watch "American Idol" and "Sabado Gigante" for free using an antenna, do you have a right to demand government action to keep them on your TV?

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/11/2013 (4 years ago)

Published in TV

Keywords: Cable Tv, free TV, antennas, FCC, Fox Network


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With Fox and Univision TV shows threatening to move to cable, experts are pondering if viewers have any right to ask the FCC to block the moves.

Fox executive Chase Carey made the threat at an annual industry event in Las Vegas this week. National broadcast networks had lost yet another court battle with Aereo.

Aereo is backed by Barry Diller, the media mogul who was the first head of the Fox broadcast network in the 1980s. The company uses banks of tiny antennae to record and stream broadcasts for subscribers and relay them over the Internet to a computer-based device.

The legal battles over the Aereo case aren't finished, and there are a good number of industry observers who think the networks could prevail.

So -- if you watch "American Idol" and "Sabado Gigante" for free using an antenna, do you have a right to demand government action to keep them on your TV?

The Federal Communications Commission sets the rules that broadcast TV networks operate by, under laws passed by Congress. The FCC is following the Aereo case closely, since it approves broadcast TV licenses. According to the FCC's manual, "FCC rules generally do not govern the selection of programming that is broadcast. The main exceptions are restrictions on indecent programming, limits on the number of commercials aired during children's programming, and rules involving candidates for public office."

The FCC is clear about what it can - and won't do. "We license only individual broadcast stations. We do not license TV or radio networks (such as CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox) or other organizations with which stations have relationships (such as PBS or NPR), except to the extent that those entities may also be station licensees."

The FCC also requires broadcast TV stations to make available education children's programming, ensure its content is accessible by people with disabilities, and to make local public safety information available.

In brief: the FCC can't force Fox to keep "Glee" on its free over-the-air broadcast signal.

It's a most ominous scenario: If all major TV networks decide to go to pay cable, the less fortunate may have to resort -- to reading books.

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