The PSA we would run at retrans time


News HoundWe read reader comments attached to RBR-TVBR stories during the recent Tribune/DirecTV dispute, and it’s clear that broadcasters need to do a better job of explaining their retransmission consent position to the public. It looks like they are the bad guys sometimes – the broadcaster is the one forced to disrupt service. So it is important to point out to your audience why it happened. Here’s how we’d do it.

Narrator: When Hurricane Zooey hit last year WLOCAL was there with up-to-the-minute life-saving coverage.

[footage of key WLOCAL journalists broadcasting on the scene]

Narrator: So was Local Cable.

[same WLOCAL broadcast footage]

Narrator: And so was Local Satellite

[same WLOCAL broadcast footage]

Narrator: And so was that new Local Telecom video service

[same WLOCAL broadcast footage]

Narrator: Hey wait a minute – that was WLOCAL providing emergency information on Local Cable and Local Satellite. That’s because the only local people they have here in Localville are the ones that take forever to come to your house on an installation or service call.

[Footage of disgruntled TV viewer sitting in front of a blank, disconnected television

Narrator: Somebody has to cover local news that is important to the people who actually live here, and our mission to serve the local public interest. We also provide lots of other programming that people love – we know because we see the ratings. Now we’re asking Local Cable, Satellite and Telco to pay a fair price for it so we can continue to provide high quality entertainment, as well as the strong local content for which you rely on us.

[Footage of news team, late night host, popular prime time program, major sports event]

Narrator: They say we’re asking for a huge raise. We acknowledge that it looks big as a percentage, but that’s only because we were getting almost nothing before.

[Footage of a handful of pocket change]

Narrator: We are only requesting what other stations like ours are getting in cities across America – compensation arrived at using the free market negotiation process. To you, it means only pennies a day in MVPD programming costs, and it’s a tiny percentage of the total bill they send you each month.

[Footage of cable bill with triple-digit bottom line charge]

Narrator: It’s not like we’re asking for the same kind of money they charge you every month for channels that – unlike WLOCAL – you never even watch.

[Footage of dung beetles doing a mating dance or grainy newsreel of forgotten politician giving a speech]

Narrator: For example, how many of you watch ESPN every day? We know some of you do, but a lot more of you almost never watch that channel.

[Footage of sports programming, sports talkers yakking]

Narrator: Did you know that your MVPD probably charges you about $5 a month for this whether you watch it or not? That’s about $60 a year – for nothing, if you don’t happen to be a sports fan.

[Footage of old lady changing the channel away from sports program]

Narrator: Where was ESPN when Hurricane Zooey hit? Certainly not here – at that time, they were more worried about some tight end eating too many double cheeseburgers and losing his ability to get open. Not too useful at a moment when your roof might be blowing off.

[Juxtapose footage of hurricane coverage, sports talkers blustering]

Narrator: We don’t know what ESPN does with the money you give it – that’s not our business. But we know what we will do with the money – we will use it to keep our station strong and financially sound so we can continue to provide you with the quality local news and entertainment you have come to expect. So please, ask your MVPD to negotiate with us in good faith so we can all avoid losing even a minute of service. Thank you very much.

In conclusion: We realize this might be a little tough to fit into a 60-second spot, but we hope you get our drift. And perhaps this will help local broadcasters find ways to effectively make their case and get the people on their side.