American Cable Association leader Matt Polka sent a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn asking that the Commission take steps to prevent program blackouts during retransmission consent negotiation impasses. NAB said that the request is just another plea for government intrusion into a private business matter.
Here is the gist of Polka’s proposal:
“ACA proposes that the Commission adopt a rule mandating that broadcasters and MVPDs continue to offer a broadcast station’s signal to consumers after an existing retransmission consent agreement expires and while the terms of a new agreement are pending resolution of a dispute. Under this proposed rule, the parties’ existing retransmission consent agreement would automatically be extended past its expiration date, and an MVPD would continue to pay the broadcaster for retransmission consent rights per such contract. At the time that the dispute is resolved and a new agreement is signed, the prices and terms of the new agreement would retroactively apply to begin immediately after the previous agreement’s expiration date and any required true-up of prices would be applied.”
Polka said this is a neutral act that benefits neither side. However, the NAB disagrees.
NAB’s Dennis Wharton said, “ACA’s letter is symptomatic of the Time Warner Cable-funded effort to inject government mandates into private business negotiations. As today’s successfully concluded free market Verizon FIOS/CBS carriage deal suggests, there is tremendous incentive for both broadcasters and pay TV providers to reach retransmission consent agreements. It is our hope that the FCC resists this cynical campaign to deny local broadcasters fair market value for our most-watched programming.”
NAB earlier noted the successful retrans deal between CBS and Verizon FiOS. Particularly interesting is the fact that according to CBS, TWC is balking at an offer substantially identical to the one accepted by FiOS.