NCTA: Ban Online Progam Blocking In Retrans

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 National Cable & Telecommunications Association has asked the FCC to ban broadcasters from blocking viewers’ access to their programming online to increase their leverage in retransmission consent negotiations.

Cable’s principal trade group said that the practice was “unfair” and a violation of broadcasters’ obligation under current rules to negotiate for retrans fees in good faith.

The request came in the FCC’s proceeding to determine whether any of its retrans rules need modification. The FCC launched the proceeding earlier this year at the request of Congress.

The NAB and individual station groups have asked the FCC not to make any changes to the rules.

“Some broadcast stations are owned by entities that also offer websites and online content that are generally available on the Internet to anyone with a broadband connection,” NCTA explained.

“That content may include some of the same programming that appears on their broadcast stations, which may be offered simultaneously with its transmission over the air by broadcast stations or on an on- demand basis. But the availability of such online programming to ISP customers typically has nothing to do with the contractual relationship between cable operators and broadcasters and is completely extraneous to retransmission consent negotiations.

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“In these circumstances, the targeted blocking of a broadcaster’s online services to any of a cable operator’s broadband customers as a negotiating tactic in order to pressure the operator to accept the broadcaster’s terms and conditions for retransmission consent should be deemed to violate the duty to negotiate in good faith.

“As the commission has noted, such online blocking unfairly harms consumers who have no relationship to the dispute between the broadcast station and the cable operator,” NCTA said.

In addition, the group said: “But whether or not the unfair effect on consumers should, in itself, render blocking of online content by either side a violation of the good faith requirement, what makes such blocking by broadcasters particularly unfair is that it is a one-sided tactic that cable operators and other ISPs are already barred from using. The commission’s ‘Open Internet’ rules flatly prohibit cable operators and other broadband Internet service providers from blocking access to lawful content on the Internet. In these circumstances, allowing broadcasters alone to block such content to obtain bargaining leverage would distort rather than ensure good faith negotiations.”


Comments (6)

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Julien Devereux says:

December 2, 2015 at 10:41 am

“As the commission has noted, such online blocking unfairly harms consumers who have no relationship to the dispute between the broadcast station and the cable operator,” NCTA said.

Either the NCTA rep who said the above is a liar or a complete idiot. Consumers have a BIG relationship to the dispute; THEY CAN’T WATCH THEIR FAVORITE SHOWS on that network and the TV stations use their viewers AS LEVERAGE against the carrier. More than once, I’ve seen a crawl at the bottom of the picture saying something on the order of: “If you have Dish (or Direct TV etc) you are about to lose this station. Please contact (carrier) and let them know you want this station!” No relationship? Puh-leeze!

Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

December 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm

It’s interesting that the FCC would frown upon an MVPD who blocks internet content but would allow broadcasters to do so.

Robert Crookham says:

December 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

The ISP’s referred to by the NCTA crooks are the same MVPDs that are trying to get the broadcast signals without paying for them. The cable industry has always tried to steal broadcast programming for free, or for far less than the market rate. This is no different.

Keith ONeal says:

December 2, 2015 at 10:33 pm

I remember when Time Warner Cable (TWC) and CBS were in a retrains dispute. TWC does negotiations for Bright House (my provider), My CBS Affiliate stayed on the cable (the O&Os were cut off); but I lost access to all the CBS websites during the month long dispute. So, the blackout of internet websites need to END!

    Wagner Pereira says:

    December 3, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Sucks to be you.

Wagner Pereira says:

December 3, 2015 at 6:08 am

Can I continue to use my cable and internet when I decide the price they charge is too high……and I decide I want to negotiate my “MVPD Bill in Good Faith”…..or will they disconnect me?


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