WASHINGTON -- NAB Television Board Chairman and President of Meredith Corporation Broadcasting Group Paul Karpowicz is scheduled to testify today before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. Karpowicz's testimony focuses on the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA).
A transcript of Karpowicz's oral testimony, as prepared, follows below:
Chairman Boucher, Ranking Member Stearns, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you very much for having me here today. My name is Paul Karpowicz and I am President of Meredith Broadcasting Group which operates 11 television stations in small, medium and large markets throughout the United States. I testify today in my new role as Chair of the NAB Television Board.
Local broadcasters appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about issues of importance for the local television service we provide to our communities.
Chairman Boucher, I want to especially thank you and the Committee staff for all of your work on the draft bill. Broadcasters support the discussion draft and look forward to continuing to work with you and other members of the Committee as we move forward.
As we discuss the draft legislation today, it is imperative that two principals remain paramount – localism and the respect for relationships that cover the distribution of programming and that have been found by the government to serve the public interest.
Meredith Broadcasting, along with television stations across the country, works every day to embody the spirit of localism, which Congress has affirmed time and time again as a vital public policy goal. We do not charge our viewers to watch our programming; we rely on payments from advertisers to deliver a free service to your constituents.
The draft we are discussing today is a positive step toward updating telecommunications law for the new era of digital broadcasting. Local broadcasters invested billions of dollars to complete the transition, and we are excited about the benefits digital broadcasting will bring to your constituents.
We are particularly appreciative that the draft continues to recognize the value of the current DMA structure. The DMA system – which is updated every year – enables broadcasters to serve every community with highly valuable local programming. For example, our company owns and operates WHNS in Greenville, South Carolina. Thirty-four percent of the households in its DMA are located in North Carolina and four percent in Georgia. WHNS provides locally-attuned service to those North Carolina and Georgia communities, just as it does to South Carolina communities within its coverage area. The nearest North Carolina television market to these North Carolina counties is Charlotte, which is 95 miles away, while Greenville is only 25 miles away. These out-of-state communities all share with Greenville the same weather, topography and have close economic and cultural ties. WHNS serves these communities every day with news stories of specific relevance to the region, a service that cannot be matched by distant stations.
The satellite industry wants to change the law, so that they can bring in duplicative network and national syndicated programming. As a practical matter, let me explain what would occur if this were to happen.
Our station in Greenville has exclusive rights, from Fox and syndicators, to air popular programming, including "American Idol," "24" and "The Simpsons," in its local market. If a satellite or cable operator could import the signal of a Fox station from Charlotte (including the exact same prime-time programming) into the Greenville market, it would significantly reduce our viewership and thus our advertising revenues. As a result, we would have fewer resources to serve the viewers (whether they are located in South Carolina, North Carolina or Georgia) with local programming, including news, weather, emergency information, and other local services. In addition, a satellite or cable operator in a retransmission consent dispute could try to drop the viewer’s local station in these North Carolina communities and instead carry a distant Fox affiliate, thereby depriving viewers of local information.
It is important to recognize that cable and satellite carriers can already import news and information into distant, in-state counties today, without changing the law.
Finally, we appreciate the efforts of Congressman Stupak to make sure that no community is denied access to local programming by their satellite carriers, and we hope to work with the Committee to address this problem.
As you consider reauthorization of SHVERA, I urge you to preserve our ability to serve every local community. We are very appreciative of the important steps reflected in this draft bill and believe the subcommittee is headed in the right direction. I thank you for your efforts so far and look forward to answering any questions you may have.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. As the voice of more than 8,300 radio and television stations, NAB advances their interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.