As the end of the year rolls around, so to does the expiration date on numerous retransmission consent contracts between broadcasters and MVPDs. NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith fired off a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski assuring him of broadcaster’s positive motivation and good faith, and asked for fair negotiations without unnecessary histrionics or government intervention.
Noting that the season for negotiation is fast approaching, Smith said, “My members have asked me to assure you that broadcasters remain committed too serving local viewers by reaching fair and timely retransmission consent agreements with our MVPD partners.”
Smith said broadcasters have three “bases”: the desire to serve their local audience; the desire to be fairly compensated in order to be able to provide quality programming; and the desire that negotiations remain free and market-based.
He pointed out thousands of agreements have been successfully negotiated and that many more will be successfully negotiated this year without incident.
Smith’s conclusion could have been aimed at everybody, not just Genachowski and the other commissioners who received a copy of the letter. He said, “I call on all parties too stay focused on concluding agreements through marketplace negotiations, rather than through calls for unnecessary government intervention or overheated rhetoric in company press releases. Even indications of government intervention in these private, market-based negotiations can impede their progress and slow their completion. The mere prospect of government intervention introduces uncertainty and distorts incentives in ways that disrupt thee bargaining process and only make it more difficult to reach fair and equitable arrangements.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Smith’s point that even a hint of government meddling can slow things down rings very true. The mere fact that the topic was going to be discussed in an FCC monthly open meeting almost certainly slowed down some negotiations earlier this year.
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