NAB To FCC: Keep Retrans Review ‘Fair’

Hearst’s David Barrett, Barrington’s Chris Cornelius and Schurz’s Marci Burdick give FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell a list of questions they say the commission needs to consider as it proceeds with its review of the retransmission consent process. They also urge the FCC to not approach the whole exercise with the assumption that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

The FCC’s planned review of the rules governing retransmission consent should be “fair and balanced” and should not assume the current process for negotiating rates is “broken,” the NAB says in a document left behind with FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell during a visit last week by a delegation of top TV station group executives.

The delegation included David Barrett of Hearst Television, Chris Cornelius of Barrington Broadcasting and Marci Burdick of Schurz Communications.

The document also includes several questions that the FCC should consider asking in the rulemaking, each of which indicates that the broadcasters intend to play offense in the proceeding.

The suggested questions:

  • What is the impact of early termination fees on subscribers’ ability to switch to over-the-air TV or other pay services during retrans disputes?
  • Should subscribers be entitled to a credit if broadcast channels are removed from the cable or satellite lineup?
  • Should the rules be modified to control cable and satellite rates?
  • Should rules requiring notification of subscribers of change of service be modified?
  • How does a cable or satellite operator’s share of total pay TV homes at the local, regional and national levels impact bargaining power in retrans negotiations?
  • How does vertical integration — cable systems owning networks — impact retrans negotiations?
  • Does less compensation for carriage of broadcast signals translate into higher fees for cable’s vertically integrated networks?
  • How are the FCC nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules different from the exclusive rights or other arrangement enjoyed by other programmers (e.g., DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket)?
  • Would requiring cable operators to file data on their ownership, point of contact, operation and coverage promote efficient retrans negotiations?

Comments (1)

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Cassandra Hamilton says:

February 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

The OTA broadcast stations should go to must carry for all. No retransmisson fees need be paid. All multicast OTA channels must be carried. The OTAs get more viewers for local commercials. The local commercials pay for all the OTA station’s operations.


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