Some things in life are complicated by their nature, such as finding cures for diseases and viruses.
Others seem to be complicated unnecessarily. It’s like the complications are made to confuse, enabling the confusion to continue — kind of a “devil in the details” situation.
Consider something known as a Designated Market Area (DMA), which determines what city’s TV signals you can receive.
The DMA complies with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. In the Norfolk area, for example, Norfolk and other Northeast Nebraska cities are considered part of the Sioux City, Iowa, DMA. That’s why satellite TV restricts residents to watching only news from “Siouxland” TV stations. You are not allowed to get TV signals from Omaha or Lincoln or any other Nebraska cities from satellite, even though Norfolk is part of Nebraska.
The same is true for transmitter stations. Only Siouxland signals are available locally.
That’s fine to an extent. Prime time programming is the same from a network from Sioux City, Omaha or Lincoln — most of the time. There are times it isn’t, such as the occasional Nebraska football game when Omaha and Lincoln stations get the Nebraska game and Norfolkans are stuck watching the rest of an Iowa game before switching to the Cornhuskers.
But there are times when it is a matter of public safety. In recent days, the governor has given press conferences that are televised by at least one Omaha and Lincoln TV station. Naturally, the Siouxland TV stations can’t cover all three states, so they skip Nebraska and South Dakota and concentrate on Iowa.
We realize that many of these press conferences are streamed online, but there are a lot of senior citizens who have never watched anything online. Shouldn’t they at least have a chance to watch important news like this on a TV channel they can get in their home?
We know at least part of the reason why these DMAs have been created is to protect the investments that local TV stations have made. They don’t want other TV stations taking away their viewers when they have invested heavily in programs.
But why do we give such protections to TV stations? Shouldn’t protections be given to radio and newspapers? Newspapers pay syndicates for such things as comics and columns, yet they aren’t allowed to determine what city you can subscribe to get your newspaper. The same is true for radio stations.
We think it would benefit everyone to get rid of these archaic DMA rules. If not, allow cities that are in a different state from their DMA to get at least one network station from their home state.
Short of that, during emergencies like last year’s record flooding or this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, at least allow viewers a chance to temporarily get a TV station that carries press conferences from their home state.
It is only common sense and a matter of public safety.