Teh broadcaster and the trade association say the cable MSO is dragging its heels on retransmission consent negotiations on purpose, in hopes that Congress will get involved.
Hearst Television and NAB released statements today suggesting that Time Warner Cable is intentionally taking a hard line in retransmission consent negotiations and causing service disruptions in hopes that Congress will intercede and give cable and satellite operators more leverage in such negotiations.
“It’s no coincidence that Time Warner Cable, Dish and DirecTV are responsible for three out of every four retransmission consent disruptions in 2012,” said NAB EVP Dennis Wharton in a statement.
“Rather than negotiate in the free market for the most popular programming on TV, this cozy pay TV cabal is manufacturing a phony crisis in hopes that Congress will fix a ‘problem’ that these companies are creating.”
No crisis exists, NAB says. “[S]ince 2000, just 0.3% of pay TV companies have ever been involved in a program dispute resulting in a disruption of local television service.”
Hearst sounded the same theme is a statement attributed to CEO David Barrett.
“It has become clear that Time Warner, as the leader in the lobbying effort to roll back the 1992 Cable Act, which was designed to preserve the health of local television broadcasting and has worked as Congress intended, has decided to hold its subscribers hostage in the hope that it can pressure Congress to intervene.”
Barrett’s statement also says that Hearst’s dispute, which lead to loss of Hearst signals in 13 markets, is “ripe for settlement,” noting that yesterday it made a proposal to TWC within 5% of its offer of July 9.
“As of today, Time Warner Cable is attempting to portray a stalemate — when none exists,” Barrett adds.
Responding to the two letters, Matthew Polka, president-CEO of the American Cable Association, said: “ACA believes the only people who are manufacturing a retransmission consent crisis for consumers are TV station owners themselves.”
Polka added: “ACA strongly endorses lawmakers on Capitol Hill who agree that the time for change is now.”