FCC Blocks Joint Retrans Negotiations

Two or more separately owned Top-4 broadcasters in the same market would be prohibited from negotiating retrans deals altogether.

The FCC voted today to generally bar broadcasters from negotiating retransmission consent deals for multiple TV stations in the same market.

Under the new regulation adopted, two or more separately owned Top-4 broadcasters in the same market would be prohibited from negotiating retrans deals altogether.

During the meeting, FCC Chairman Tom Wheer said that Congress gave broadcasters the right to charge for their programming and that’s not changing. “All we’re doing today,” he said, “is leveling the negotiating table.”

On a related action, the FCC also proposed a further notice of rulemaking seeking comment on whether to eliminate the agency’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, regulations that make it easier for stations to protect the exclusivity of their programming in their markets.

NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton issued this statement: “It’s important to note that broadcasters have engaged in thousands of successful retransmission consent negotiations with pay TV providers over the years. Never has a local TV station been found by the FCC to have negotiated in bad faith. We would also note that broadcasters are not responsible for higher pay TV bills. Pay TV companies have been raising rates more than twice the rate of inflation for the last 20 years, according to Consumer Reports. The notion that a punitive crackdown on local TV stations will lead to lower cable rates is simply not credible.”

American Cable Association President-CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement on the commission’s action: “ACA salutes Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler for leading the effort to put teeth into the regulations that require broadcasters to negotiate retransmission consent with cable and satellite TV providers in good faith. Adoption of today’s order extracts from a broadcaster’s bite one of several practices that most obviously harm consumers and competition. ACA members are ecstatic that the FCC is finally banning coordinated retransmission consent negotiation between two separately owned, top-rated stations in the same market.


NCTA President-CEO Michael Powell said in a statement: “ We … commend the FCC’s pro-consumer action to establish a clear framework for restricting independent, competing broadcasters in a local market from jointly negotiating retransmission consent agreements.  As we have long maintained — and as the Department of Justice has confirmed — such coordinated behavior harms consumers by artificially inflating the cost of watching over-the-air broadcast stations on cable systems. By enforcing the ‘good faith’ provisions of the retransmission consent regime, the FCC’s sensible action will help protect consumers from anticompetitive marketplace practices.”

Comments (9)

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Brian Bussey says:

March 31, 2014 at 11:50 am

Attention cable companies ! I can make / save you a whole lotta money onthis retrans foolishness…..

Ellen Samrock says:

March 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm

By the time he leaves the FCC, the ACA will have anointed Tom Wheeler to sainthood.

Jamey Deen says:

March 31, 2014 at 12:13 pm

This is what you get when you have a shill from the least regulated communications industry set the rules for the most regulated communications industry. “Leveling the negotiating table” – was this meant to be ironic?

Wagner Pereira says:

March 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

….and at the same time, the NCTA is negotiating the group rate for Viacom that expires tomorrow. Pot, meet kettle.

Kevin Lilly says:

March 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

So let me get this straight, for 20 years in both Republican and Democratic administrations the FCC has said JSA’s are OK and approved hundreds as companies invested in stations, personnel and programming to run them….then today they reverse course and without fully vetting the current industry and value of JSA’s they change the rules. WTF ?? I doubt this stupidity will be allowed in the courts, but if upheld stations will go dark, jobs will be lost and local news and programming service in smaller markets will contract. It is a sad day for broadcasters dealing with and out-of-control FCC.

    Angie McClimon says:

    March 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I hardly think so, but you are welcome to your opinion. Stations won’t go dark. In fact, there will be more jobs available (mostly sales, but still). The sky isn’t falling, Chicken Little.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    March 31, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Sales will not be able to make minimum wage with the ratings most of those stations will get.

Manuel Morales says:

March 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Simple solution- put the 2nd affiliate on your D2 and boot strap it in with carriage of the primary signal. For a fee of course. Problem solved.