The pro-MVPD American Television Alliance (ATVA) on Friday filed brief reply comments in response to the FCC’s quadrennial review.
To perhaps little surprise, the group, which counts ACA Connects as a member, blasted broadcasters for having “largely repeated” old arguments in support of their desire to relax or eliminate the duopoly prohibition.
The comments from owners of broadcast TV stations came in the initial comment round, and they want an end to rules that prohibit a single entity from owning two top-four rated stations in a local market.
For ATVA and ACA Connects, the Commission should eliminate what the groups consider loopholes that broadcasters have used to, in their words, “create duopolies, triopolies, or even quadropolies.”
As such, the ATVA argues, “The Commission has no duty to subsidize broadcasters — especially when broadcasters are remarkably profitable these days and (in other contexts) extol the virtues of the unfettered marketplace.”
Much of those profits are courtesy of steep increases in retransmission consent revenue, which largely cushioned broadcast TV from eroding spot revenue across 2020.
The subject of retransmission consent fees arose by noting there is no “downward pressure,” even though the ATVA’s antagonist, the NAB, suggests streaming and cord-cutting accomplishes this.
Meanwhile, the ATVA agrees with broadcasters that in “short” markets, a TV station owner can affiliate with two top-rated networks in order to ensure that local viewers have access to a full complement of network programming.
That said, how broadcasters define “short” markets is a problem.