U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), both members of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation with to evaluate whether Americans are receiving television programming and news most essential to their local communities.
The Let Our Communities Access Local TV (LOCAL TV) Act requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to study how designated market areas (DMAs) affect access to local and in-state broadcast television programming. The FCC must then provide a report to Congress with recommendations on how to increase localism in states served by out-of-state media markets. The senators released the following statements:
"Nearly one-third of counties in Nebraska currently face challenges receiving local broadcast programming, leaving many Nebraskans with limited access to local news, weather, sports, and emergency alerts," said Fischer. "I'm pleased to work with Senator Booker on this bipartisan effort to explore how we can address this ongoing problem and increase local programming. As we seek to strengthen consumer choice and control over video programming, this legislation will bring us closer to ensuring all communities can receive local information from Nebraska broadcast outlets that is relevant to their everyday lives."
"New Jersey is one of just two states in the country without its own designated market area, meaning New Jersey news takes a backseat to Philadelphia and New York City," said Booker. "Many New Jersey residents simply aren't getting the state-specific news that's most relevant and important to their communities. The LOCAL TV Act will help us understand how New Jerseyans can better access the local news, emergency information and programming most communities enjoy."
DMAs are the geographic areas drawn by the Nielsen Media Company and used by the FCC to define a particular media market. Despite DMAs' intended commercial use, they are also used to define local television markets for the transmission of local broadcast signals to subscribers. Consequently, commercially drawn DMA lines have a significant impact on the local broadcasting content available to consumers, leaving many markets lacking true local content.
Recognizing the importance of broadcasting in communities, the LOCAL TV Act directs the FCC to study how DMAs affect access to local and in-state programming and how any deficiencies in localism might be addressed. The legislation then requires the FCC to provide Congress with an analysis of how consumers have access to broadcast programming outside of their local media markets, and whether there are feasible alternatives to the use of DMAs that would offer more programming options.