NBC Affils Warn FCC Of Sports Migration

Tilting rules governing retrans negotiations in favor of cable and satellite could accelerate the migration of sports programming to the pay media, NBC affiliates say in visit to the FCC last week.

Just days after the Four Four — NCAA basketball semi-finals and finals — appeared on cable rather than broadcasting for the first time, a group of NBC affiliates visited the FCC and warned that other top sports programming could migrate from free to pay TV.

If the FCC adopts regulation “that impairs, impedes or handicaps the retransmission consent negotiating ability of local broadcast stations to the competitive advantage of national pay TV distribution platforms, it would only serve to assist and accelerate the migration,” they told FCC officials, according to the official record of the April 8 meeting.

“Not only would such a result be competitively unfair to local broadcast stations and their broadcast networks, it would be contrary to the interests of all viewers and, in particular, it would deprive all access to the nation’s top-rated sports and entertainment programming by those economically unable to subscribe to a pay TV service.”

Under a congressional mandate, the FCC last September opened a rulemaking to consider regulating retrans negotiations. In that proceeding, pay TV operators have been arguing that the commission’s current hands-off approach is unfair and leads to blackouts of broadcast programming on cable and satellite systems when negotiations reach an impasse.

The affiliates also argued that it would be unfair to regulate retrans negotiations while not regulating negotiations between pay TV operators and regional sports networks, whose demands for carriage fees dwarf those of “significantly more popular local broadcast stations.”

The affiliates cited reports that Fox’s YES network (home of the New York Yankees) is now asking cable systems for $6 per sub per month.


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Greg Johnson says:

April 12, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Broadcasting can’t ask the FCC to intercede in sports rights auctions on the grounds that it isn’t fair to the less than 10 percent of the audience. YES can ask for $6 per subscriber and the distributors can refuse to pay. The FCC is used as the protector of OTA when it serves owner’s purposes. Let the FCC take back unused digital spectrum that broadcasters have not legal claim to. Affiliates can contribute to sports rights negotiations to support networks. Ironic, to see NBC affiliates making the case when they themselves participate in Olympics bids. Sports rights are moving to pay tv. I didn’t see the NCAA final because I cut the “chord.” I watched the Masters final round on the internet. The FCC and US broadcasters need to invest in the future instead of this endless plea for helping hand under the guise that they care about consumers who are disenfranchised. It is BS and broadcasters are trying to manipulate local political power.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    April 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    You cut the “chord”. Interesting. For those who cut the cord, not the “chord”, they watched the Masters OTA. You needed to pay for internet access to watch online. Those OTA viewers did not. If more and more sports go to cable, you will see less and less. Eventually, everyone has to pay for their viewing one way or another – be it time watching commercials or out of pocket. You arguing that the FCC should not take movement of Sports to Pay Cable in thinking about how retransmission is handled does a disservice to the “cord” cutters. I guess “chord’ cutters will just accept it.