ACA praises Wheeler plan to stop retrans “collusion”


ACA / American Cable AssociationThe American Cable Association commended FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for circulating his order that takes a stand against collusive retransmission consent negotiations by separately owned TV stations and “calls upon the full Commission to adopt the proposals so that MVPDs, including independent cable operators, are spared from this practice in upcoming negotiations.”

“FCC Chairman Wheeler deserves high praise for addressing the broken retransmission consent market and moving to correct one of its most serious flaws – the collusion practiced by dozens of TV stations owners, who are supposed to be competing with one another.  Adoption of Chairman Wheeler’s proposed order would represent a victory not only for fair competition, but also for millions of consumers who are being victimized by TV station conglomerates, which have the perverse idea that collusion is somehow consistent with their legal charter to bargain in good faith,” ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said.

His concerns were echoed by DOJ in a filing with the FCC in which it offered opinion that the joint sale of retransmission consent would be per se illegal unless it’s reasonably necessary for some other efficiency-enhancing combination of the stations’ operations.  In the same filing, the DOJ doubted such efficiencies could ever possibly exist.

ACA says it believes that today’s action is long overdue: “Small cable operators and their customers have been suffering at the hands of broadcast station groups like Sinclair and Nexstar, who have been so flagrantly evading FCC duopoly ownership restrictions, often through so-called sidecar deals.”

“Today, the FCC is standing up for competition and consumers and saying to broadcasting’s bad actors, ‘No more,’” Polka said.