FEDERAL ISSUES

PRESERVING LOCAL RADIO

Internet Radio Fairness Act Seeks to Balance Radio Streaming Rates

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R- UT) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D- OR)  introduced legislation to reduce royalty rates for streaming audio.
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Radio receiving chips in cell phones and smart phones

The floods in upstate New York during Tropical storm Irene dramatically illustrated the need for including radio receiving chips in cellular telephones.  With cell service out in some areas, local broadcasting was the lifeline providing lifesaving information between New Yorkers and public safety officials.  Ironically, many smart phones already have radio chips built in, but some wireless carriers oppose activating them.  For public safety reasons, radio chips in cell phones and smart phones need to be included in the device and turned-on.
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Radio Performance Fees Should Not Be Increased

New York’s radio stations provide news, entertainment and life saving information to consumers free of charge.  Local radio stations are vital to local economies and help stimulate jobs across the Empire state.  In the last few years, the big recording companies have tried to change the law and impose a new performance tax on local radio stations for airing music.  Of course, the new fees paid would go to the big record companies.  Stations already pay a blanket-licensing fee for playing music.  Moreover, playing music provides free promotion to the big record companies and artists. A new performance fee could financially cripple local radio stations and harm New Yorker’s that rely on radio, local economies and jobs:
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PRESERVING LOCAL TELEVISION

Retransmission Consent Helps Preserve Local Television

For more than three decades federal copyright law allowed cable operators to take local TV signals off the air at nearly zero cost them, and then retransmit these signals to consumers for significant fees.  Like the anchor stores in a mall, highly popular local television stations served as the backbone for the cable business.  In 1992, Congress decided to balance this unfair practice and allow local stations to negotiate with cable operators (and later satellite services) for the right to retransmit programs from local television stations.  This free market system has worked well, as more than 99% of all negotiations are successful and fees for broadcast programs account for less than 2% of the local cable bill.

In an intensely competitive market place, retransmission consent revenues allow local television stations to continue providing local news and top quality programs.  This not only helps cable subscribers, but it insures those consumers who rely exclusively on an antenna to receive local television stations, will continue to receive their favorite news and entertainment programs.
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Insuring New York Has TV Spectrum/Frequencies for Free, Over the Air TV

Local television states use specific frequencies (channels) to provide free “antenna” television service to all New Yorkers.  More than 1.25 million New Yorkers use an antenna as the only way to get local TV stations.  The wireless industry is attempting to convince the Federal Communications Commission to take airwaves away from local television and reassign them for use by the wireless industry.  The FCC has begun the process of developing the rules to reassign these channels as part of its voluntary spectrum auction proceeding.  New York consumers are especially vulnerable and may lose access to TV stations because of channel congestion in New York City and international spectrum agreements with Canada.
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Balancing Rights of Access in the Digital Age

All broadcast stations keep a “public file,” which is made accessible to members of the public.  The purpose is to allow citizens in the local community to view important documents and papers that relate to station operations.  A recent change in the FCC rules will not require these files to be placed on line.  In addition, some stations will be required to place rates charged to political candidates on line as well.  While we support public access to these records, we must make sure that the burdens imposed by these new rules do not overwhelm stations to put them at a disadvantage relative to other communications services.  LEARN MORE

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