Congressional foes of retransmission negotiation fall flat


New York Reps Steve Israel (D-NY) and Pete King (R-NY) recently wrote a “dear colleague” letter bemoaning the process by which broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate retransmission rates, taking an anti-broadcast, pro-MVPD stance. The good news: The Hill’s Hillicon Valley blog reports that only 13 colleagues signed on to the letter.

They were answered in short order by a second “dear colleague” letter from Gene Green (D-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) pointing out that this is a business-to-business issue, operating under a legislative and regulatory framework that is working just fine, and urging their colleagues to take the best possible action – that is, no action at all.

RBR-TVBR observation: Here is yet another case showing the tendency of communications issues to blur partisan lines on Capitol Hill. That’s because this issue isn’t about business v. consumer or big v. little. It’s about one communications platform v. another.

There is one aspect of this particular issue that does warrant an advantage for one contestant over the other, however, and that is localism. Since most or even all of the local programming on most MVPD services comes from broadcasters, and since local programming is a critical component of the nation’s ability to deal with disasters both natural and manmade, it is critical that the health of local broadcasters remains robust.

If legislators are going to build an advantage for one side or the other in retransmission, broadcasters are clearly the more deserving recipients.