Does the National Association of Broadcasters Actually Watch Over-the-Air TV?

Broadcasters are so desperate to save the antiquated retransmission consent rules that they’ve given up arguing the benefits of retrans and instead attack pay-TV providers. It’s disingenuous, and incredibly short-sighted. Broadcasters need pay-TV companies for eyeballs and retrans dollars.

Why do broadcasters need pay TV? Because nobody would watch broadcast TV otherwise, given their weak signals. Broadcast TV signals are so unreliable, they can’t be seen at National Association of Broadcasters headquarters without major rooftop hardware.

The NAB is located at 1771 N St NW, Washington, DC. We used, co-sponsored by NAB, to help consumers understand what sort of antenna they need. (Isn’t the existence of such a site itself indicative of how antiquated and un-consumer friendly broadcast TV really is?)

According to the site, the ABC and CBS affiliates require a “medium multidirectional antenna” to be seen at NAB HQ. What does that look like? “Designs include novel stick, wing-shaped or disk-type antennas with long elements. An amplified antenna is recommended for green channels anytime a long (20 feet or more) cable from the antenna is required, or when more than one device (TV or VCR) is to be used with an antenna.” Sounds awfully complicated.

As for the Fox affiliate, NAB needs a “medium directional antenna.” “These medium-size, multi-element antennas are the most popular rooftop antenna because of their modest size and ghost-reducing characteristics. These are best used if there are any ghost-producing reflective structures near your location.” The NAB must go up to the roof – and watch out for ghosts!

To watch NBC, the NAB needs a “medium directional antenna with pre-amp.” It’s similar to the other one, except it has, you know, “pre-amp.” Again, the NAB must install an antenna.

Just to see the Big Four affiliates, the NAB needs to install at least one serious rooftop antenna, and even that doesn’t guarantee a crisp and clear signal. The NAB can do this, since they own their building. How many Americans can do the same where they live and work?

An overwhelming majority of Americans, 90%, prefer pay-TV service. Broadcast TV stations are virtually unwatchable otherwise. When the NAB HQ needs a good signal, who do you think they turn to?

Broadcasters make noise about being “always on.” But if the NAB doesn’t even receive decent broadcast TV signals, what chance do the rest of us have?


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