The American Cable Association, which serves the needs of smaller cable operators, is all for FCC intervention in the retransmission negotiation process, where operators and television station owners negotiated a price to allow the system to carry the broadcaster’s programming.
ACA’s Matt Polka said, “ACA believes that the retransmission consent regime is broken and needs FCC intervention to protect consumers and promote competition. Neither will be fully achieved, however, if the rules continue to allow broadcasters to engage in rampant price discrimination against small cable companies for no cost-based justification.”
ACA notes that it and several other organizations asked the FCC for a rulemaking on retransmission, and that the FCC complied nine days later. Comments were due 4/19/10, with time still available to file reply comments, up until 5/4/10.
Among the things ACA is looking for is interim carriage rights during good-faith negotiations and compulsory arbitration when talks break down.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is a very complicated proceeding – yet another one with a lot of moving parts – but the bottom line is that in almost every case, broadcasters and cable companies are able to work things out. And if the broadcast programming is “must-have,” then it must be worth more than some of the other channels being carried that most people don’t bother to watch.