The Coalition for Local News has issued a statement that looks to further explain its goals and respond to recent criticisms from others, including the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, which was set up in part as a counter coalition.
The Coalition for Local News, made up of a group of local broadcast stations, including ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS affiliates, first made its case last month when it looked to draw attention to a “streaming loophole.” Soon after, the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition made its presence felt by looking to counter many of the claims put forward by the Coalition for Local News.
Today, the Coalition for Local News issued a new Protecting the Value of Local News statement, where it again draws attention to its primary goal – “to raise public awareness of this critical issue and galvanize support for swift action to protect local news before it’s too late.”
The statement also responded to some of the counter-claims made by others, including the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition. In short, the Coalition for Local News says that anyone arguing “that because streaming services distribute local broadcast stations today, there is no need to modernize regulations” is wrong.
The crux of the argument put forward by the Coalition today is that even though streaming services offer access to local stations, these stations are made available on the back of “unfair agreements.” As the Coalition correctly explains, streaming services do already pay for the right to carry local broadcast stations and these costs are already passed on to consumers as part of their subscription price.
These costs are often decided at the national level, however, and this is where the Coalition has an issue. Using Paramount Global and CBS as a recent example, Paramount and CBS struck a deal with Fubo over access to the national CBS channel, as well as local CBS stations and affiliates.
As that deal was not struck directly with the local stations, many of these affiliates were unhappy with the offer and this did lead to a temporary blackout in some locations.
It is this difference in control between the national and local station level that the Coalition for Local News takes issue with. As the Coalition explains, “the networks decide both how much streamers pay for local stations and how much of that value actually makes it to local stations.”
Without “a seat at the table to negotiate with streamers,” the Coalition argues that the current situation leaves local stations faced with the decision of either accepting “inferior compensation or risk their ability to continue to produce vital local news and information for their communities.”