Jack Fields thinks that the current retransmission negotiation process needs to be reformed, and wrote about it in The Hill. Jack Fields used to be Jack Fields (R-TX). But now he is Jack Fields of lobbying firm Twenty-First Century Group. One of this year’s clients: Time Warner Cable. Hmmmm.
Fields wrote that the rules originally written in 1992 were to assure that broadcast stations would remain solvent when cable was a virtual MVPD monopoly in most markets. He says the rule was never intended to be a club for broadcasters to use on MVPDs and notes that nowadays cable systems have competition from other MVPD platforms.
The Hill article notes that Fields is currently a consultant to the telecom industry.
Other sources are a little bit more revealing. According to opensecrets.com, other clients include or have included Verizon and DISH Network, which give Twenty-First Century Group an MVPD trifecta: cable, satellite and telco. Going back to 2001, the firm has billed over $900K to such firms.
Field’s lobbying disclosure report says he works on “issues related to the cable television industry, particularly retransmission consent.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Back in 1992, cable didn’t have much competition from other MVPD platforms. But we’d also point out that broadcast television didn’t have all that much competition for advertising dollars from cable channels.
Viewers used to get cable programming with few or no commercial interruptions – it was all part of the subscription fee. But as cable programmers have increasingly gone head to head with broadcasters for advertising cash, they haven’t at the same time turned their back on retransmission consent fees. They should not wonder why broadcasters need that revenue stream as well – they need look no further than the business model of their core, often co-owned program services.