In his keynote speech yesterday, David Barrett made the case for local TV and said telcos and broadcasters like his company, are natural allies in the multicasting debate.
While broadcasters like Hearst-Argyle Television, of which Barrett is president and CEO, want their digital signals to appear in their entirety, cable companies disagree, arguing such a requirement interferes with free speech, he said.
Barrett added that although he understands telcos are focused on other regulatory issues — such as how to expedite franchise approvals — the franchise goal is somewhat similar to broadcasters multicast carriage effort in that both are about offering customers more choices and moving ahead with new technologies.
Multicasting is a vitally important service, because it expands broadcasters ability to provide important and new content, he said, citing a recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) study indicating 90 percent of programmers surveyed would use multicast if given the opportunity.
Broadcasters are excited about helping telcos exploit this abundance of capacity available through fiber-rich networks and IPTV platforms, Barrett said. The timing for your [entrée] into the video business could not be more opportune, he added.
Noting that on April 7, 1927, Herbert Hoover was the subject of the first long-distance TV service demonstration over phone wires, Barrett said I shouldnt be welcoming you to the miracle of television, I should be welcoming you back.
Expounding on his broadcast history lesson, Barrett said Congress 70 years ago created a decentralized broadcast system, aligning with the Jeffersonian idea that local entities best meet local needs. And when the FCC in 1999 gave the DBS industry the right to retransmit local stations, satellite TV subscription went through the roof, he said. Local television is more than just good public policy, its good business, he added.
Local stations provide the glue that ties societies together and act as first informers when disaster strikes, said Barrett, noting that as Hurricane Katrina struck, Hearst-Argyles local station in New Orleans spent every minute covering it and the station answered calls from viewers about where they should go.