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tv   The Communicators The Future of Broadcast Television  CSPAN  August 2, 2019 10:29pm-11:00pm EDT

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he owed them his best judgment, not his obedience. and he convinced them. parties were held, richard nixon did not just win of republican nomination, he won the democratic nomination. passed on our nations american history tv every weekend on c-span3. >> the house will be in order. c-span has been providing unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by of local and satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of
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government. >> former senator gordon smith is the longtime president and ceo of the national association of broadcasters. he is our guest this week on "the communicators." before we get started looking at some of the issues that the nab is facing, how many people in this day of netflix and hulu and amazon are actually watching broadcast tv? sen. smith: an awful lot. one of the things people insist on his having local news, weather, sports, emergency information. it is the lifeline. natural or human disasters, it lets people know what is coming, how to find shelter, how to get rescue and recovery. the broadcasters, radio or
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television, is a public servant to be the first in former. it is unique in our country where so many of our communities have their own local television stations, and they are on the job at the peril of their own lives when a storm is coming. that is a franchise in all of telik medications that ,roadcasting owns and operates we are alone doing that given the peril of newspapers now. tople tune in all the time get the weather, the traffic, city, whated in the did my team do? are onre the things we the case of doing. lamentably with all of the digital age and challenge of newspapers, we are there still
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as the answer to what is happening to journalism. we are still doing the reporting, we are still investigating, still holding people accountable. and so i think the future for broadcasting is not just one that will survive, we will thrive because the people need what we do, even though they sometimes take for granted that we will be there. we occupy what i would describe as irreplaceable and indispensable in communications. some of the satellite companies do not necessarily agree. gordon: it is true they would rather have our expensive and valuable and most-watched content for free. the truth is, when they want to sell a subscription for direct you're not channels, going to be of to sell that's obstruction long if you do not have a local component that broadcasters alone provide. ,hen they take our content
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expensive and valuable as it is, and resell it, that is when we are entitled under copyright and contract to be able to have recourse to its value. it is unfortunate, but whenever the congress seems to be paying attention to these issues, some of our friends at directv and able, they will manufacture lot of service interruptions, as we call it. they do not want to pay for as much as our product is worth. in these negotiations, i am not in them. i am the association had. -- i am the association head. is viewershipy and comparables. havebroadcast journalism ratings like this, and they are compensated like this, and when
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they with their own programming compensate themselves, one pocket to the other, this much for viewership like this, i am saying there is room to negotiate for value. that is what happens in these retransmission consent contest negotiations. i do think it is imperative that the public officials respect that this is a market in flux. when i was a u.s. senator and there was occasionally a labor dispute, i would have management come in and say, can you help us with this? can you put the thumb on the scale back? , as theyze both sides do between tv and pay-tv, both sides have an economic interest , andming up with a deal the responsible thing for me to do as a public official was to stand back and not put my thumb
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on the scale, because then i am allowing the marketplace to assign prices that reflect values of the content, and that is what is happening. host: before we go further, let's bring paul kirby into this conversation. recently thatech the pay-tv folks are trying to get things and legislation coming up, that is not fair. you used to allow markets to work in these agreements. do you want to elaborate on that? gordon: back in the late 1980's, early 1990's there was a bill passed designed to be temporary to help the satellite industry compete with what was a cable monopoly. it allowed this current reauthorization, called stella sometimes, it allowed for
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technological reasons satellite companies to bring in distant signals into local markets. all the technical impediments have been overcome, but still at&t and 12 of the 210 markets, they do not deal with local tv providers. bowling green, kentucky gets its from new york city when is on directv. i do not suppose my friend chuck schumer mines the people in kentucky getting news about him, but i suspect mitch mcconnell does. there is no technical impediment. there is a value to the local, but a particular value to the towers, the customer to want see the local news and not new york city. there is literally a case where , tornado coming into oklahoma
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and they are watching a dumpster fire in l.a. oft defeats the purpose having local journalism, local stations that are on these other platforms because they need that information. it is not fair to them that this law which says -- which should sunset. to at&t,ubsidy directv, it has a market cap of $250 billion. they should be dealing with a local broadcaster. we are simply saying the time has come that this temporary legislation as intended in the beginning that it should sunset, that we should allow it to sunset. it no longer represents good public holocene. host: let me ask you about
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another proceeding that has got sec isf attention, the probably going to repurpose some of that spectrum. they said, how about 200 megahertz of the 500. another group said we can get 370 megahertz. more than 120 million americans rely on that band distribute audio, whetherd we are talking about over the air or via cable. in the past, as long as we are protected, we have not gotten into the weeds about how much spectrum should be repurposed and how it would be repurposed. cannot move to fiber? dashcam that moved to can that moved to fiber? viewersevery one of our
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have had their cable cut back at some point. when you have the super bowl going on or a presidential debate or a natural emergency coming on, you do not want something to interrupt that transmission. fiber can be redundancy but not a replacement. so our viewers understand what we are talking about, this high band spectrum is literally what networks of radio and television use to transmit to local ,roadcasters their programming and what we are simply saying, not taking a position on any particular thing, there are for thee must oppose sake of the television and radio viewer and listener. that is anything that would replace the spectrum or
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with transmission in a way that is disruptive. friends in the telephone business, they want to have more 5g. this is a spectrum valuable for that new technology. it should never displaceable we uniquely have as american which is broadcast television over the air, free if you want to put up a digital antenna, best picture you can get through that method. if you want to pay for it through a tv company or satellite-radio company, you can do that. that is freedom, but our stuff has a value, and it is important to remember that broadcast arevision and radio, there two revenue streams.
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there is advertising, and that is greatly fractured in the digital age. that has gone down. retransmission consent is the essential back fill we have needed to preserve this unique feature of the united states of america, which is local television in local markets. that is something the american people count on, and what nab is fighting to preserve, even while being cooperative for the demand for 5g. you do not have a position, you're just saying we must protect them? gordon: exactly, no interference or reliance on fiber as a replacement. it can be a redundancy, that is fine. we have seen too many instances even in a presidential debate there was a disruption because the fiber, we cannot afford to take that chance because human
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life could be in the balance. this,you talked about repacking tv channels for the incentive option. in some channels are going to wireless companies. we are in the process of repackaging channels. the ones involved will move to another part of the spectrum. schedule.head of you have said we need to make sure folks are made whole, and if there is a problem, do things beyond their control. gordon: i want to take my hat off and appreciation to the fcc, they have been good to their promise from the beginning that during this repack they would be sensitive to the weather, conditions beyond the control of anyone to get ahead of. they have allowed enough flex
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ability that we are up to the fourth stage of the repack, it is going well. it is also true a 2000 foot weather,d inclement sadly there have been fatalities during this repack. between goodwill broadcasters, the sec, the tower workers, and the phone companies who are trying to make sure this happens on time, and we all have that same incentive to get this in the rearview mirror. you getso necessary as into these later stages, particularly during the winter months, you have to be attentive to the weather and dangerous conditions for the tower crew workers. host: t-mobile which was the largest bitter at the auction made investments to help the process along.
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andpower tv stations antenna manufacturers, how helpful has that been? it takes all of us working, and we try to work with them. we appreciate their ideas and where we can find common ground to meet with them and do what they are asking. we try to do that. the focus cannot be taken off the customer, the american citizen. the focus cannot be taken off the safety of the tower worker. we do not want anybody to lose access to the television station. host: you talked about the when itce of localism comes to broadcasters. what about ownership rules for local television stations? is it time to update them? gordon: it is.
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i would make note for your this is not our fathers' era of broadcasting. when we went to the digital transmissions, we have gone from peopletworks, and now are drinking information and entertainment from a fire hydrant because it is flowing. you can get it so many places, and digital advertising has become a significant player taking dollars from what supports local broadcasting. simply are up against ,nregulated behemoth companies and you heard the acronym that stands for facebook, google,
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netflix, amazon -- i got them in the wrong order. they have no regulations, there is nothing in beating their size. that is who we are competing against. facebook is investing in local content because so many newspapers have been destroyed. we are still there, but we are trying to hang on in the face of these companies which are almost approaching the size of the robber baron companies of teddy roosevelt's time. you have them now, facebook talking about coming out with their own currencies. while broadcasters are kept small by regulation, we are competing with what are developing as corporate nationstates almost, and i think -- i do not agree with elizabeth warren on everything -- but she made a good point in a recent speech.
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it said this is becoming something that congress should seriously look at. when i was on the senate commerce committee, the tech companies could do no wrong. they always came in with new gadgets and we were thrilled with it. but there comes a point when a private interest gets so large that it has a public impact that begins to run counter to the public interest. i think we have reached that point. i do not know if congress is capable of dealing with it, but i am pleased many in both parties are saying it is time to put guardrails up. what we are saying is, if you are going to treat us in this way that we have been treated since the beginning, and kept in a certain box, recognize what our competition is. it is not with each other, it is with all of these other entrants
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to the digital age. treatise the same, treatise fairly, deal with them the way you deal with us. in the end, these behemoths are coming to a point at which it is no longer in the public interest because they buy up competition, they bury competition, and they stifle innovation and investment. and they do that because that is in their interest. i do not criticize them for pursuing their self-interest, but in the end there is a public interest too. that is what is in the crosshairs of this debate. it is time for congress to wake up to it. ,ost: do you consider facebook twitter, some of the telcos to be media companies? they arebsolutely media companies, and they compete for the advertising dollar, the cornerstone of how you pay for expensive content
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like showing the super bowl, the world series, presidential debates and all of the costs that go into providing a local studio. they are media companies. host: you mentioned congress, the department of justice looks like they will look at antitrust against big tech. do you welcome that? gordon: i do. i want to thank the justice department who recently -- they are recognizing the way in which they view broadcasting belongs in the "i love lucy" era. and now they have roundtable discussions to say, what is the world really in which we consider broadcasting? how is it impacted ivs others now? the sec recognized that. we hope the justice department
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soon will. congress should begin to look not to the tech industry just as we have in the past, but focus more on the public interest. and again, we are the only ones thedo the local besides newspapers that remain. and they are dwindling fast. those companies do not do local. , and they do us not want to pay for what we do, and they do not want the that overlayrdens what we do. but they are doing much of what we do. we are saying the world has changed. earthquake in an telecommunications, so all policymakers look at the new landscape, it is very different. like it is sounding you do not like "i love lucy."
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when you shared this viewpoint with your former republican what is their reception? gordon: for a long time, big tech has been supportive of the democratic side of the aisle, a little to the republican side. now i think what is going on today, the mueller hearing, they are recognizing on the democratic side maybe some of this is not in the public interest. and on the republican side, they still hold too many of the principles of teddy roosevelt who broke up the big trusts in his time. it is at a point you become so , even the point of developing your own currencies that congress does need to take a look and do something if they
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are capable of it in this sidesnment because both are looking at big tech and saying, maybe the public comes first. host: another proceeding involves tv white spaces. the fcc has opened these up for unlicensed use. microsoft has asked them to modify the rules. microsoft's petition has taken a constructive approach. things are more pleasant between the two. most of the things are true, the fcc should look at these, i want to get a sense, are you willing to support some of these things down the road that the fcc says
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they want to modify these rules? gordon: we have come to a good place with microsoft. money standpoint and backgrounding government, they seem to start with a public relations campaign before a legislative policy campaign. i think they got that figured out. our opposition in the beginning, we cannot let you get into the white space if that produces interference. is that it wasm branded as a way to rollout broadband for rural areas. there is no shortage of spectrum in rural areas. want is the valuable urban areas where they can monetize it and sell their equipment. we are saying, let's call it what it is and focus on the science that governs the spectrum in white spaces, and
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let's figure out with them as their partner and not opponent how this can be done and how they can be accommodated without creating interference by this great incumbent broadcasting industry that people count on. you were not talking about interference in urban areas. absolutely, the money is found in the urban areas, and we are saying let's not call it rural deployment because it is about urban deployment, selling stuff. we are now in a good place in discussing this with them, and talking real science and physics. last senator smith, the great telecom act was 1996, the year h you got elected to the senate.
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as you said, there has been an earthquake in telik medications. --earthquake in telecommunications. ted stevens was the chair, and we got close to a good telecom rewrite. have vestedho interest in the status quo, yet there is a need in the public interest to reshape the , then this issue popped up, net neutrality. we were grappling with what does that mean, how does that translate? then net neutrality became a republican versus democratic issue and took the whole bill down. in the end because congress cannot settle this issue, it went to the fcc.
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neutrality, and the chairman went back to the previous situation. has access, nobody is being blocked, i have heard no reports about that. the question is, is this a solution looking for a problem? depending on where you sit, you will answer yes or no. that is an issue that has to get figured out as part of any telecom rewrite, and i do not sense the parties are getting closer on finding common ground. host: gordon smith is president and ceo of the national association of broadcasters. paul kirby is senior editor of telecommunication reports. take you for being on "the communicators." >> announcer: for 40 years, c-span has provided america with unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house,
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the supreme court, and public events in washington, d.c., and around the country. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. this weekend on american betweenr: comparisons abraham lincoln and andrew johnson on the constitution. atouncer: you take a look the whole cartoon and its very different impression on what people thought of johnson at the time. not that he was defender but that he did not understand the constitution. it was about his ability. and that he was acting in unconstitutional ways. at six on sunday american artifacts, a preview of
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the exhibit at the national archives. in new jersey america from its first voters beginning in 1776 when new jersey became a state, the new jersey state constitution made no mention of sex when discussing voting qualifications. it only had a property requirement. so women who owned enough property, primarily widows and single women, not all women in new jersey, could and did vote in elections at the local, state, and national levels. announcer: and an 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, author john farrell talks about nixon's early life and career. early 1948, he campaigned for the marshall plan. he went to every rotary club, every chamber of commerce, every vfw and legion hall. every crowd that would take him, he told them his best judgment not his obedience. and he convinced them.
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when the party primaries were held in california in the summer of 1948, richard nixon did not just win the republican nomination. he won the democratic nomination. he had wagered everything and carried the day. he ripped character -- he ran unopposed on his first reelection campaign. announcer: explore our nations passed on american history tv every weekend on c-span three. former u.s. reps. ryan costello (r-pa) and jim moran (d-va) are among the speakers at a discussion on the future of regional political and policy reporting hosted by the regional reporters association and the national press club journalism institute. it is one hour and 10 minutes. >> thank you. welcome.llerman: on behalf of the national press club and the national press club journalism institute.

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