Broadcasters: Senate TV plan would cripple emergency alerts, journalism

Broadcasters are warning that a Senate plan to change the way people pay for TV channels could have dire consequences for viewers. 

The 50 state broadcaster associations have prepared a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) and Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' Trump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP MORE (S.D.), the panel’s top Republican, warning that their Local Choice plan will “destroy” the idea of giving consumers local content.

ADVERTISEMENT

That would make it harder for people to find out information about emergencies, get weather reports and watch local news, and would hurt diversity, the state organizations wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill.

In their note, the organizations wrote that they "oppose this proposal because of its likely devastating impacts on broadcast localism and the nation’s viewers."

The senators’ plan, which they will likely try to attach to a bill reauthorizing an expiring satellite TV law, would allow people to pick and choose which broadcast TV channels like NBC or ABC they would like to receive as part of their cable or satellite subscription, and pay for them individually.

Cable and satellite companies have applauded the move to an “a la carte” system for broadcast TV stations and are launching a six-figure advertising campaign in support of the proposal, but broadcasters have pledged to fight back.

Bringing such a model to broadcast TV would increase prices, the groups added in their letter, “and result in fewer – not more – choices for consumers.”

“Indeed, these are precisely the exact opposite results that your proposal appears to seek,” they wrote.