Lack of access to in-state TV not a widespread problem


The FCC has prepared a report for Congress, which was seeking information about “orphan” viewing areas that were both part of a Nielsen DMA centered in a different state, and without access to any broadcast outlets from within the area’s home state. According to the study, very few households fall into this category.

According to the FCC, there are 117.2M US households, and 99.98% of them receive at least one in-state broadcast television stations either off air or via an MVPD. And 98.4% could have access to an in-state station via DBS if they subscribed to one.

The FCC does not diminish the importance of the issue for those orphans that do exist. It notes that citizens in these areas “…lack access to in-state programming, including political and election coverage, public affairs programming, and weather and other emergency information. Consumers from disparate areas throughout the nation comment that they are deprived of vital information that is overwhelmingly available to other households across the country.” FCC further notes that these citizens generally cannot get the kind of coverage of state government activities that they need. It even says that the citizens can be harmed by lack of access to certain advertising messages, even if it is only in the form of lacking the knowledge to support in-state businesses rather than benefitting those across the state line in their home DMA.

The full FCC report can be read here.

RBR-TVBR observation: This household could potentially be an orphan. It is located in North Carolina, but is part of the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News VA DMA. We’ve always had cable access to Greenville-New Bern-Washington NC stations, which is indeed our personal preference.

We are also more than 35 miles outside of the Norfolk area, which if we understand this correctly, puts us beyond the protected zone of most Norfolk-area broadcast television stations.

It seems to us that if this is a small problem unique to only a few areas, then unique case-by-case solutions might be preferable to an entire body of rules. Isn’t this type of problem the kind that guidelines and waivers were designed to resolve?