Since the FCC decided to crack down on Shared Service Agreements, something very interesting has happened. In a few cases, broadcasters have chosen to combine network programming onto one signal (I.E. CBS is on Channel 1.1, NBC is on 1.2), and shut down a transmitter.
I thought this might happen. To me it was an obvious solution for broadcasting companies that want to control two major networks in a small-medium market. If the FCC won’t let them control two stations, they’ll use technology to run two stations on one transmitter.
Viewers still get all of their major network programming, although possibly with lower picture quality. But viewers could also lose several other program choices in the process.
Here’s where the opportunity lies: someone needs to start buying the licenses of stations that have been shut down–preferably before the licenses are turned in to the FCC. Ideally, people in a given community will buy the local station and find new ways to serve their communities AND the local economies.
Need some ideas of how to program these stations? I have some ideas, as you’ll see on my most recent post.
If these newly-independent local stations can band together, they can share programming costs and marketing ideas. There may be a way to bring some much-needed cash to the operation, using the same technology that the other stations used to create their virtual duopoly: lease one or more “sub-channels” to religious broadcasters, home shopping networks or even to a local organization, such as a community college, that would like to start a PBS member station.
At least one broadcaster who’s giving up stations has recruited someone to do something admirable with these stations. Let’s hope they see realistic possibilities and bring in people such as me who have big ideas.