Lake Tahoe elected officials fight for return of Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA
June 18, 2018
The removal of KCRA, Sacramento's NBC affiliate, from the cable lineup in South Lake Tahoe has sparked outrage from some customers and led several elected officials to undertake a lobbying campaign seeking the return of the station.
KCRA was removed June 8. Hearst Communications, which owns the station, raised the fees for providers to broadcast stations outside their market, which resulted in Charter Communications terminating KCRA in Tahoe, according to South Lake Tahoe Mayor Pro Tem Tom Davis and El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel.
"We're being censored," said Davis, who has been vocal about the issue. "We don't get our news from Reno."
South Lake Tahoe is part of the Reno designated market area (DMA) — a broadcast method developed by the Nielsen Company based on television viewing data. DMAs are confirmed and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), thus determining which station covers a given region. Based on the DMA, Charter is required to carry KRNV, the affiliate in Reno.
Novasel and Davis hope to prompt the FCC to change the DMA so that South Lake is included in KCRA's market, which includes the Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto regions. They plan on submitting an appeal to the FCC, an uncommon move according to Novasel. Additionally, the county plans to issue some kind of survey in order to determine which station locals prefer.
It is unusual for one market to have access to two affiliates, according to Bret Picciolo, senior director of communications for Charter's Northwest Region.
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"Virtually none of our competitors carry the out-of-market broadcast channels on their lineups," Picciolo stated. He declined to comment on this specific decision.
Hearst does have the power to raise rates for providers broadcasting stations outside their DMAs, Novasel said.
Hearst could not be reached to confirm the rate increase Novasel and Davis described.
The two local electeds have been in contact with state and federal officials and their offices to gain support for the appeal, including state Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, state Senator Ted Gaines, Rep. Tom McClintock and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The Reno DMA spans northwest Nevada as well Mono, Alpine and Lassen counties in California. It also includes the South Lake Tahoe portion of El Dorado County, though most of the county is included in the Sacramento DMA. DMAs frequently cross state lines, but it is much less common to see counties divided.
Davis said his concern is that the Reno news does not provide information about California politics.
A similar situation happened in 2008 when Charter threatened to remove KCRA of Sacramento and KGA of San Francisco, which resulted in public uproar. Over 30 South Tahoe locals wrote letters to officials, which were forwarded and responded to by Charter, the Tribune reported.
Davis said the community "raised hell" and was able to save KCRA, but KGA was terminated. He hopes to see the same this time around.
CORRECTION: The headline for this story incorrectly identified the station has KRCA. It has since been corrected.