Broadcast TV networks create and aggregate programming on a national basis, and affiliate with local broadcast TV stations to distribute that programming to viewers. These are networks like ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, MyTV, and NBC.
Local broadcast TV stations use the public airwaves to distribute that programming free over-the-air to households with TV antennas, and negotiate with local cable, satellite, and telephone companies to distribute that same programming to the distributors' customers. The local broadcast TV stations often create local news and other programming, and are typically known by their call letters or channel numbers, like NBC4 or Fox5.
A cable network creates and aggregates programming on a national basis, and negotiates with local and national distributors like cable companies, satellite companies, and telephone companies to distribute them to customers. They typically do not use the public airwaves.
Some major media companies own all 3 types of programming vehicles, broadcast TV networks, local broadcast TV stations, and cable networks.
To learn more about retransmission consent negotiations between video distributors like Time Warner Cable with these parties or to join the discussion, visit TWCConversations.com.