The economic impact of cable on the U.S. economy in 2020 approached a half-trillion dollars, according to a new impact report. The report, commissioned by NCTA-the Internet & Television Association, looked at “the direct and indirect impact of the cable operator industry on employment, personal income and gross output in 2020” and concluded it was approximately $460 billion and accounted for over 2.9 million jobs.
Rob Stoddard, senior VP of industry and association affairs at NCTA-the Internet & Television Association, is retiring after two decades at the association. Stoddard told staffers that he would be leaving Jan. 3, 2022.
NCTA-the Internet & Television Association has bolstered its government affairs team, including adding some Democratic firepower in a town where the White House, both houses of Congress, and the FCC, are all under Democratic control. The new faces: Timothy Graham, Alex Minard and Kelsey Odom
Cable operators are telling the FCC that retrans regulations should apply to carriage negotiations that include ancillary “broadcast internet” services. That came in comments by NCTA-The Internet & Television Association on the FCC’s inquiry into what, if any, rules need to be changed to accommodate broadcaster’s potential new multichannel services using the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, whose members include the owners of CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, and CBS News, has joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to support Fox News in its defense of a lawsuit filed by a group, WashLITE, critical of Fox News/Fox Business Network commentary on the coronavirus. WashLITE said that commentary is deceptive commercial speech in violation of consumer protection laws.
Cable operators are on the same page as broadcasters when it comes to the FCC’s approach to political ad disclosures.
The cable industry’s lobbying group, NCTA, is siding with the Association of National Advertisers and pharmaceutical companies in their attempt to invalidate a new regulation requiring video ads for prescription drugs to include their list price.
Viewers can once again dial the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board if they have an issue with how a TV show is rated for content.
The cable trade association says the commission should not only retain its ban on the common ownership of two full-power Big Four network affiliates in the same market, but should also close a “loophole” that allows affiliates to double up by carrying Big Four programming on low-power stations and multicast streams. NCTA such deals give broadcasters an unfair advantage during retrans negotiations.
Broadcasters and satellite operators are at odds over who would be burdening whom under a new carriage election proposal the FCC is considering. The NAB and NCTA have joined in proposing changes to the carriage election — must carry or retrans — process, which the FCC is looking to streamline as part of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s deregulatory weed-whacking initiative.
NCTA-The Internet & Television Association said the FCC will need to put conditions on the merger of Nexstar and Tribune, otherwise the deal runs a ” material risk of consumer and competitive harm.” NCTA is primarily concerned about the impact of the merged broadcast group on retrans rates.
No, broadcasters and cable operators have not agreed that either the must-carry/retrans regime is still good law (broadcasters) or an anachronistic thumb on the competitive scale (cable), but the FCC has sought comment on a joint proposal by both those camps for updating how TV stations notify MVPDs of whether they are electing either mandatory carriage (must carry) or will try to negotiate a fee for MVPD carriage of their signals (retransmission consent), with the possibility of losing carriage if they can’t strike a deal.
Cable operators not looking for a boost in broadcaster retrans leverage have told the FCC that Gray Television has not made a case for being allowed to own two of the top four stations in Honolulu. Gray is seeking to retain both stations in its deal to buy another high-rated station in the market. Gray in June struck a deal, subject to FCC approval, to buy Raycom for $3.6 billion.
The NCTA and the cable industry have gone from “relentless government assault” to seemingly bottomless regulatory deconstruction in just 21 months. With this probably in mind, the cable industry lobbying org has extended the contract of CEO and President Michael Powell for three more years. Powell is a former FCC chairman, a Bill Clinton appointee, who joined the NCTA in 2011.
The trade group tells the FCC that the merged entity should be given restrictions on its ability to negotiate for retransmission consent fees as well as be forced to comply with existing media ownership limits, not “hoped-for” relaxed ownership limits.
When it comes to broadcasters’ proposed “Next Generation” standard, some of the stuff coming out of the FCC docket is akin to “that was then, this is now,” NCTA alleges. The standard, known as ATSC 3.0, is touted by broadcasters as capable of 4K, enhanced emergency alerts and mobile video. But cable has been increasingly worried that despite the FCC seeking a “voluntary” approach, it could impact operators and independent networks’ ability to fairly compete.
A committee from NCTA’s board, led by Comcast’s David Cohen and Advance Newhouse CEO Steve Miron, is gearing up to launch a survey and study of the cable industry’s various groups, such as WICT, The Cable Center and CTAM. The survey may be disseminated as soon as this week.
The NCTA has asked the FCC to make it clear that pay TV operators are not responsible for seeking closed-captioning registration or compliance certification for every show that runs on each programming network.
It’s the end of an era for cable TV: The industry’s biggest trade group — recently renamed NCTA – The Internet & Television Association — said Wednesday that it will stop sponsoring INTX, the annual gathering that was a must-go for industry moguls for decades when it was known as The Cable Show.
The cable trade group rebrands as NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. “We’ve changed our look but our mission remains the same,” it says, adding that the new brand “projects unity, partnership and energy.”
The National Cable Telecommunications Association plans to conduct INTX from Wednesday, April 26, through Friday, April 28, next year in Washington. That’s in direct conflict with the NAB’s plan to hold the NAB Show from Saturday, April 22, through Thursday, April 27, in Las Vegas.
NCTA tells the FCC that any new rules should not require cable systems to carry 3.0 signals during the transition from the current DTV system to 3.0. The trade group also says systems should not be burdened with new carriage obligations or costs and the host station should be required to broadcast in HD.
Michael Powell, a former FCC chairman and currently head of the cable industry’s biggest lobbying group, is frustrated. Cable companies have been “increasingly saddled with heavy rules without any compelling evidence of harm to consumers or competitors,” he said at NCTA’s trade show last week in Boston. Here, he talks about the issues facing the cable industry and offers his candid views on the FCC, as well as his thoughts on the presidential campaign.
In one of the most all-out offensives launched at the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” set-top regulatory proposal, Comcast and the NCTA each filed searing reply commentary to the agency. A day after AT&T referred to the NPRM as a “radical unbundling scheme,” the National Cable Telecommunications Association ramped up the rhetoric even further, calling the proposal a “radial re-invention of the video marketplace.”
NCTA President-CEO Michael Powell, in the opening INTX keynote in Boston, lauded the cable industry’s shift into “high gear” in innovation and change during a “transformative period,” but held fast to his view that Washington regulators are stifling that progress through dramatic policy changes.
The commission (read Chairman Tom Wheeler) wants to let third parties (read Google) offer cable and satellite subscribers alternatives to the system-supplied set-top boxes, claiming that would protect consumers from egregious monthly rental fees. Both broadcasters and cable have raised legitimate objections to the idea, arguing that it could disrupt the current broadcasting-cable ecosystem in many harmful ways. Let’s hope the clock runs out on Wheeler.
It’s safe to say that if the FCC moves forward with its set-top box proposal, which seeks to open up the set-top market to third-party vendors, cable will sue. In separate media briefings Thursday, both NCTA and ACA executives made it clear that they won’t hesitate to take the commission to court.
If consumers are able to replace the set-tops they now lease from cable or satellite providers with a box or app from a third party as the FCC is proposing, Google and others could sell boxes or apps that would offer access to both traditional cable fare and OTT streaming services. Programmers are joining the opposition, concerned that they could lose control over their content and the advertising that supports it and be further exposed to OTT competition.
The cable group tells the FCC that blocking viewers’ access to online programming, “when used by broadcasters as a tactic in retransmission consent negotiations, should be deemed to violate the duty to negotiate in good faith.”
The FCC’s net neutrality rules came under a new legal assault Tuesday, as AT&T and the major wireless and cable industry groups sued to overturn the order. AT&T and its trade group CTIA — The Wireless Association, which also represents Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, filed lawsuits in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, as did the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, whose members include Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. The American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable operators, went to the same court.
The trade group says its new Internet and Television Expo “reflects the evolution and transformation of the NCTA’s The Cable Show and will focus on the digital media and entertainment economy, featuring multichannel video and broadband Internet providers, television creators and producers, online video distributors, digital technologists and startups, engineers and more.”
“We welcome an examination of a retransmission consent regime that is increasingly fractured and in need of some repair,” said Michael Powell, NCTA’s president-CEO, but didn’t offer any specifics about the new reforms the cable trade group intends to promote.
Michael Powell leads the NCTA as it holds its annual convention, but he will be hard pressed to present a unified front.
Wall Street analysts says higher carriage and retrans fees, plus declining video customers, could lead to MSO mergers.
The cable industry’s annual gathering is usually a celebration of new technologies, popular programming and sunny projections for growth. But when top pay-TV executives gather in Washington for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention this week the conversation may be a bit more somber as there are some big clouds on the horizon that will put a damper on what typically has been a three-day party.