The Writers Guild of America West said that Congress was right to protect local broadcast by supporting retransmission consent, and said that growing consolidation in the MVPD industry and ever-increasing competition make it as important now as it ever was.
WGAW said the rules are in no need of repair, and added that weakening the rules would have a detrimental effect on its own members as well as on consumers.
“Empowering broadcast stations to negotiate for retransmission revenue to fund local and national programming helps the FCC realize its mandate to foster diversity, localism and competition in media,” WGAW wrote.
One reason to support broadcasters is to check the growing power of certain MVPDs. WGAW noted that the top four controlled 50% of the business in 2002, but now have control over 68%. They said this makes “strong, protective retransmission consent regime more necessary than ever.”
It also noted the growing competition broadcasters face, in many cases from OTT devices and internet services, adding that for many MVPDs, these platforms are lucrative sources of income. “While this increases the complexity of retransmission negotiations, it does not mean that broadcast stations should be limited in what they can do in negotiations to secure fain compensation.”
Finally, WGAW pointed out, “…the broadcast networks remain themost watched television channels. It is not unreasonable for broadcast stations and networks to seek subscriber fees reflecting both the popularity of the network and the additional rights granted to MVPDs.”
It concluded by noting any weakening of retrans would hurts not just broadcasters, but would also harm creators and consumers.