Ted Turner’s bid to create a second West Coast feed of superstation WTBS is meeting fierce resistance from network and independent TV stations.
That’s the word from Capitol Hill sources, who claim traditional broadcasters are balking at Turner’s plans to air superstation programming at the same time on both coasts.
Under current U.S. copyright law, superstations such as WTBS are barred from altering their daily program feed. Hence, the lucrative WTBS 8-11 p.m. primetime schedule on the East Coast airs in the less desirable 5-8 p.m. slot in the west.
Turner lobbyist Bert Carp on Tuesday confirmed that his company would like to buy a second satellite transponder giving it the capability to air the same programming starting at, say, 9 p.m. on both coasts. “It seems to us to be a good idea to create a family viewing period” throughout the U.S. without facing the three-hour West Coast time differential, said Carp.
The Turner lobbyist said he is pitching the idea as an amendment to the Satellite Home Viewer Act, a piece of pending legislation in Congress that would extend compulsory copyright license protection to satellite program carriers.
Capitol Hill sources said Turner is concerned that Congress may pass a bill sponsored by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) relegating the hours of violent programming to time periods when children aren’t in the audience. Should the bill become law without a corresponding change in copyright law, WTBS would presumably face restrictions on its airing of certain pix on the West Coast.
Representatives of both the major networks and the Assn. of Independent Television Stations are fighting the Turner proposal, according to Carp. INTV lobbyist Dave Donovan declined comment.