Policy

Strong Support for ACA Retrans-Reform Move

4/19/2005 9:48 AM Eastern

More than 55 cable companies, independent programmers and national organizations have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission in support of the American Cable Association’s call for reform of retransmission-consent rules.

The ACA in March filed a petition with the FCC asking the agency to examine and change regulations used by the “Big Four” TV-broadcast networks and TV-station groups to allegedly prop up the price of retransmission consent.

The ACA charged that cash-for-carry retransmission-consent demands could cost the small-cable-operator group and its customers an estimated $1 billion if current rules aren’t changed.

The ACA petition has drawn comments in support from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Cable Television Cooperative, Court TV, Hallmark Channel, Mediacom Communications Corp., Cebridge Connections, Atlantic Broadband Finance LLC, Millennium Digital Media, Armstrong Cable Services and Susquehanna Communications Inc.

“Retransmission consent is simply outdated regulatory policy -- it precludes the television-distribution arena from operating equitably,” Robert Rose, Court TV’s executive vice president of affiliate relations, said in his network’s comments.

The FCC last month released the petition for public comment to the ACA filing, with comments having been due Monday.

“The regulations identified by the ACA, particularly retransmission-consent provisions, may cause adverse marketplace consequences, including further difficulty in launching and distributing new services, because cable operators forced to divert substantial payments to broadcasters have less to spend on new, independent programming,” Paul FitzPatrick, Hallmark parent Crown Media Holdings Inc.’s executive VP, said in that network’s comments.

Regarding the filings in support of the ACA, CEO Matt Polka said, “This enormous record and response from across the country shows that retransmission consent is not working well for consumers, cable operators or the public interest.”