The Federal court in Miami issued a permanent injunction blocking Prime Time 24 from illegally delivering distant CBS and Fox network programming to DBS homes that can receive the same programming from local CBS and Fox affiliates.
Judge Lenore Nesbitt of the US Southern District Court of Florida set April 30th as the deadline for Prime Time 24 to disconnect all the subscribers of distant network programming hooked up illegally before March 11, 1997. Prime Time 24 remains subjected to a disconnect for illegal hookups of customers signed up between March 11, 1997 and July 10, 1998, as set forth by an earlier injunction by Judge Nesbitt.
NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts hailed the court's decision. "This is another victory for localism and America's unique system of free over-the-air television," said Fritts. " It's important to note that those DBS customers who were illegally signed up by Prime Time 24 will still be able to receive the same programming from their local stations." The court found that Prime Time 24 "made a conscious decision to flout" the satellite Home Viewer Act. "Prime Time's attempt to comply with the SHVA was largely ineffectual and has led to systematic violation of SHVA's white area restriction."
WALB-TV transmits its signal from our tower in Doerun, Georgia, near Moultrie. Since 1954, WALB-TV has been a licensed affiliate of the NBC Television Network. Under the affiliate agreement with NBC, WALB is granted TOTAL exclusive rights to any NBC Network signal that may enter the WALB-TV Grade B Signal Area. (Please see the map, below).
The Grade B area is based on the ability for an average roof top antenna to receive a quality signal from WALB-TV's transmission site. This has nothing to do with whether you have cable service in your area. Cable service is solely dependent on the cable company.
Please understand that NBC owns the product it places on its satellites, and they alone control who may access their signals. They and the other major networks, ABC, CBS, and FOX, choose to do business exclusively through local affiliated TV stations. This national channel with local inserts of news, emergency weather, and community service is the very essence of FREE, over the air broadcasting.
Local inserts are required for WALB to remain an NBC affiliation in good standing. The FCC also requires WALB to offer these services to renew its license to operate on channel 10 in South Georgia. WALB provides service to 77 cable companies in our region, and to all satellite companies. In the past this was not an issue for the average consumer, since it was more of a boundary for neighboring NBC affiliates and protection of that boundary.
With the advent of satellite systems such as DirecTV and Primestar and the like, the companies offering these satellite subscriber services have been ILLEGALLY offering the reception of NBC's network signal within the Grade B Zone of many affiliates. This is not a problem with just our area, but a national problem that has been very difficult to deal with. Recent court rulings are making it tougher for these satellite subscriber services to blatantly offer the ILLEGAL reception of Network signals to people within the Grade B broadcast area of any licensed television affiliate.
Public outcry has been first to blame the local affiliate for PULLING THE PLUG on their reception of network signals that are in direct violation of court decisions and the agreements that affiliates have with their respective networks.
ANY SATELLITE SERVICE THAT OFFERS OR MISLEADS A PERSON INTO BELIEVING THEY CAN SWITCH OVER TO THEIR SERVICE AND STILL GET NBC IN THE WALB GRADE B COVERAGE AREA IS SIMPLY WRONG.
While some people on the fringe areas of our Grade B signal coverage may not be able to receive WALB-TV's over the air signal, that is a judgement that WALB-TV reserves to accept or deny if a consumer is seeking to receive NBC Network signal from a satellite service provider.