DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications are considering capturing free broadcast signals from TV networks to avoid paying billions of dollars in retransmission fees. “If found to be legal, the Aereo concept is very interesting, especially as it relates to retransmission consent fees,” says a TWC spokesperson.
BIA/Kelsey estimates that retransmission consent fees accounted for 6.5% of station revenue in 2012 and expects that percentage to grow to 9.5% this year.
The corporate owners of four Seattle TV stations separately have sued Click Cable TV to keep records containing their financial agreements with the city-owned cable network from being released to the Tacoma News Tribune. Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, CBS Corp. and Tribune Co. are prepared to contend the retransmission consent records that detail how much they charge Click to carry KING, KIRO, KCPQ and KSTW contain protected trade secrets that are exempt from public disclosure. Fisher Communications, owner of KOMO, has also intervened in the case.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves flipped the argument that Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt made yesterday when he said that he may drop pricey cable channels that generate hash-mark ratings. “That means for the channels that are getting viewers, he’s going to pay more,” Les Moonves told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference Tuesday. “He should pay the most for the guy who’s the No. 1 network.”
In a new report, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger says CBS is anticipating revenue of $1 billion in 2016 from retransmission consent fees from cable and satellite operators and their own affiliates. CBS had previously said it wouldn’t hit that number until 2017.
Speaking at the national cable convention, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski offered cable operators some hope that carriage payments to broadcasters could go down, citing the rise in blackouts and an FCC examination of shared services agreements. But, he gave no indication the process is moving with any alacrity.
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At the opening of the American Cable Association’s Washington Summit, Chairwoman Colleen Abdoulah also says escalating sports programming costs must be addressed.
Third quarter 2011 retrans fees per subscriber range as high as 61 cents for Univision, followed by Sinclair at 49 cents.
American Cable Association President Matthew Polka says “If CBS, NBC and Fox want to risk billions in their dealings with the NFL, that’s their business. But broadcasters should not be able to rely on the government’s broken retransmission consent and cable carriage rules as the means for them to recoup the cost of their corpulent NFL contracts.”
That’s one wicked about-face for Steve Burke. The Comcast executive, after fiercely resisting for 12 years paying broadcasters any retransmission fees, appeared to find religion yesterday, surprising a media conference audience by promising to doggedly pursue “millions of dollars” in — wait for it — retransmission fees for his NBCU unit. “Retransmission consent dollars is not a good thing for the cable side of Comcast, but it’s going to be a very good thing for NBCU,” he told a host of investors at Bank of America’s annual media conference.