Combatants gearing up for another retransmission battle


It’s that time of year, ladies and gentlemen. After having just gotten past contentious retransmission battles involving broadcast stations, cable companies, satcasters, telco MVPDs and cable programming suppliers, a report notes that Time Warner Cable and Sinclair are gearing up for the next go-around.

According to, Sinclair broadcast stations on Time Warner cable systems are already running a crawl noting that negotiations with the cable company are not going well, and it seems likely that the end-of-year 12/31/10 contract expiration date will come and go without a new agreement.

And in response, Time Warner is “dusting off” its own campaign in which it tries to blame rising cable costs on broadcast fees and asks subscribers if it should “roll over or get tough” in its negotiations.

RBR-TVBR observation: Suppliers want to get the most compensation possible. Distributors want to pay the least amount possible. The eventual price paid is the result of a free-market negotiation, often between companies that know how to play hardball. But the game is almost always decided in the regulation nine innings with no disruption of service.

It might be interesting to see what happens if at some point a broadcast company and cable company completely fail to reach an agreement. Many consumers now have options for broadcast content: over-the-air reception, satellite, telco and internet program sources. Maybe we’re getting to the point, even if only experimentally, where a negotiation should be allowed to fail without government pressure and intervention, to see how the MVPD market is shaken up.