NEW MEXICO (KRQE) — If you read the news at KRQE.com, there’s a good chance you’ve also seen our TV coverage. KRQE News 13 has been one of the hundreds of local news stations broadcasting news for years. But now, some lawmakers are worried that online streaming could limit access to local TV news.
The TV industry has changed dramatically in the last few decades. The digital economy now accounts for billions of dollars in gross output, and video is following that trend. But the new era is raising questions about access to content, and lawmakers in Congress are asking the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to consider — and perhaps regulate — existing broadcasting rules to ensure the future of local news.
With the rise of multi-channel cable TV in the 80s, it became easier than ever to get news and shows from around the world delivered to local communities. Although that presented obvious benefits to viewers, it came at the risk of national-level content crowding out local content, such as news focused on a specific community. Regulators required cable companies to get permission from local broadcasters in order to re-transmit their signals, which became a way for local stations to collect money and remain economically viable, according to the National Association of Broadcasters.
But streaming services present a whole new frontier for how local content might be re-distributed. Starting in 2014, the FCC began looking into modernizing regulation to include digital distributors, but even that was before streaming really took the world by storm.
“The [Federal Commission Commission] should be developing a record and recommendations to ensure that our regulatory system – which has enabled a thriving locally-focused broadcast system that is the envy of the world – is not undermined by the explosion of new technologies that were not foreseen even a mere decade ago,” U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and other congressional representatives wrote in a letter to the FCC.
Luján’s office claims that in 2014, the majority of households had cable or satellite TV. But now, fewer than half of families have subscriptions to those, Luján’s office says.