Skip to content

Shaheen, Hassan Join Group of Senators to Urge FCC to Improve Access to Local Journalism

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of Democratic senators in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the Commission to improve access to local media on streaming platforms. Current law and Commission rules state that traditional cable and satellite networks must work directly with a local television station before broadcasting local news, sports and other programming. However, linear streaming services over the internet are not required to negotiate directly with local television stations.

“Internet-based streaming services now have a sizable portion of the video programming distribution market – and this is only expected to grow as streaming companies actively urge consumers to switch from traditional television providers like cable and satellite TV to virtual offerings and other video streaming services. The shift from broadcast, cable, and satellite to streaming has profound impact on existing laws, regulations, and agreements that have been foundational in support of public safety and access to local news,” wrote the Senators.

The Senators continued, “In light of these marketplace changes, we urge the Commission to examine the video marketplace and seriously consider how it can ensure the viability of local broadcast stations and promote localism.”

Streaming services have a large and growing portion of the video media market as consumers cut-the-cord and make the switch from traditional television providers like cable and satellite TV to streaming services over the internet. In 2014, nearly 9 in 10 households subscribed to cable or satellite. This year, fewer than half of families subscribe. As consumers show their preference for the freedom that streaming services provide, it is critical for Congress to ensure continued access to local journalism.

Full text of the letter is available HERE.

“Broadcasters play a vital role in providing verified and factual information to the public about their local community and events taking place around the world,” said National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “Though the television marketplace has changed dramatically in recent years, viewers still expect and deserve access to their local TV news stations – no matter the platform. We are grateful to Sen. Luján and his Senate colleagues for urging the FCC to examine the impact of streaming on viewer access to local broadcast stations by refreshing the record in the virtual MVPD proceeding. This builds on the leadership and correspondence earlier this year from Chair Cantwell who has also urged the FCC to examine this issue. We are grateful that these senators are committed to ensuring the public’s continued access to the critical local news and public safety information local TV stations provide.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and was also signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Peter Welch (D-VT), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Edward Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).