The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has a number of members working in the broadcasting field, and beyond that it is able to see the battle over retransmission consent through the prism of its own situation, and has sided with broadcasters.
For starters, it noted that for years MVPDs refused to compensate broadcasters for the right to rebroadcast their programming, and for years broadcasters were content to accept simple carriage, despite the fact that basic cable channels were getting per-subscriber fees in addition to whatever advertising income they could muster.
That has changed, and broadcasters are doing what they can to earn fair compensation “…commensurate with their significant financial investment in content and rise in viewership.”
The money gained through retrans, said IBEW, is reinvested into the industry, fueling innovation and indirectly benefitting its own members.
It is not happy with MVPD lobbying efforts seeking to “hamstring broadcasters’ ability to monetize their investment…” – noting that this will also negatively affect all who rely on over-the-air television.
It is particularly concerned about the effort to disallow program blackouts in the event on an impasse. IBEW President Edwin D. Hill explained that a standstill requirement is “…in effect a contract that never ends regardless of its eventually outdated terms and conditions. Applied to collective bargaining, a contract like this would be unacceptable to IBEW members. For our employers in the broadcasting industry, such a contract is an unnecessary restraint of trade.”