Satcast changes NAB agenda

Announcement of deal on package programming could come as early as Jan. 12

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters are close to an agreement that would allow satcasters to offer subscribers a package of programming that includes their local TV stations.

The announcement could come as early as Jan. 12, when the National Assn. of Broadcasters will hold its annual board meeting, industry insiders say. If the NAB board does agree to the changes, Congress likely will follow with legislation that would write the deal into law.

Under a plan now circulating among board members, the broadcasters would allow satcasters to rebroadcast their signals if the satcasters agree to carry every station in a market. For instance, if DirecTV wanted to offer a package of local stations in L.A., it would have to include every single TV station in L.A. in the package.

If the deal is approved, satcasters could overcome one of their biggest liabilities in their fledgling competition with cablers, which is their inability to offer viewers local TV stations.

Satcasters hope that a deal with broadcasters will lead Congress to adopt legislation giving them a blanket copyright license that not only will cover programming produced by the station but also their syndicated and network fare.

Studios and other producers will not likely support the deal because they would like to force satcasters to negotiate for each copyright license on a program-by-program basis.

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