Last week, DIRECTV made news by pushing Tegna to allow them to offer their channels as an add-on in what could be a landmark fight between locals and pay-TV providers.
DIRECTV is governed under 1999 laws made for satellite companies wanting to offer locals. Cable TV companies though are governed by 1992 laws that say cable TV companies must offer a basic level of service that at minimum must include local TV channels.
“Meanwhile, cable TV operators’ carriage of local TV stations is governed by the 1992 Cable Act. The FCC’s website suggests that cable TV operators could not lawfully provide local TV stations a la carte,” said Ted Hearn from PolicyBand.
Streaming services are also not required to offer locals right now, which is something local TV stations are hoping will change. This allows Sling TV, for example, to offer cable channels without offering locals in most areas.
The dream of having locals as an optional add-on for people who want to save money by using an antenna to avoid the costs of locals seems to be blocked for many by the FCC.
Right now, some cable TV companies are charging as much as $30 a month for broadcast TV fees. The ability to opt out of locals could dramatically lower the cost of TV for many Americans. To do this, the FCC and Congress need to change laws related to how cable TV companies are managed.
At this time, cable TV customers will have to continue to pay for locals; however, DIRECTV customers may, if they get their way, have an option to add the locals on to their plan.