Pro football has returned to FTA

A few quick notes. First, Azteca Siete has picked up a weekly Sunday afternoon pro football game again. It’s in Spanish, of course, but it uses a US network feed, and you should be able to keep track.

Once upon a time, in the glory days of FTA, you could find several games available through various US OTA signals that were sent on satellite. Now we’re down to one, not counting the Sunday night game you can probably watch OTA already. Still, it could be another option if you don’t like the game(s) that your local channels are showing.

* Charter cable has started itemizing the amount it pays for retransmission fees. Wayne Friedman of TV Watch writes that Charter shouldn’t stop there; it should itemize the amount it pays for every channel of programming. That’s a good idea that’ll never happen.

If you’ve never looked at how much cable and pay-TV satellite operators pay per subscriber per month for various channels, you should take a look at this list compiled by Peter Kafka in March. Among basic channels, ESPN and the local Fox Sports Net cost as much as the next 10 most expensive channels put together, if that chart is right. And in those 10 are TNT (which raised its rates after landing the NBA), NFL Network, and ESPN2.

If pay-TV providers could break out sports programming as an option, those who don’t watch sports could see their bill go down $10/month. ESPN (Disney) knows this, and that’s why it fights hard to stay on everybody’s most basic tier.

But back to itemizing broadcast retransmission fees, this is another example of why there needs to be a single, negotiated rate for providers to pay local stations. Below a certain viewership threshold, the station would be carried for free and like it. (I’m looking at you, shopping channels.) Above that, it could be based on an average number of viewers, determined by market size and ratings. With such a basic system in place, viewers could be sure they’d never lose broadcast channels in a fee dispute, and both sides would know in advance what those fair payments would be. Seems to me that just the billable time saved by each station’s negotiators would make this worth it.

* MTV Spain has launched as a FTA channel. Just in Europe, of course. Should we be envious?