The broadcaster tells the FCC that it should condidition approval of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger on requiring equal retrans terms and agreeing to binding arbitration to settle disputes. It also wants Comcast’s NBC to be capped at asking for no more than 50% of station retrans revenue for reverse comp.
To protect broadcasters from the “unprecedented” scale of the combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the Sinclair Broadcast Group has asked the FCC to condition its approval of the merger on surviving Comcast’s promise to give retransmission consent terms to unaffiliated broadcasters “no less advantageous … than [those] they provide to their own O&Os.”
In addition, Comcast should be required to agree to binding arbitration in retrans negotiations if requested by the broadcaster, Sinclair said. “And the arbitrator should be instructed to take into account the fees paid for cable channels as well as for other broadcast stations in determining appropriate consideration.”
Also concerned about the demands Comcast’s NBC may make for reverse comp — or “reverse retransmission fees” — Sinclair asked the FCC to cap such fees at 50% of the retransmission consent revenue that broadcasters collect from cable and satellite operators. “This could help preserve a broadcaster’s ability to invest in programming, among other things.”
Sinclair also asked that the Comcast promise not to object to the implementation of a new broadcast standard. What’s more, it said, Comcast should agree not to deploy any technology that “interferes with broadcast delivery of new products and services.”
Sinclair along with other broadcasters and receiver manufacturers are actively developing a new broadcast standard — ATSC 3.0 — through the Advanced Television Systems Committee.