ACA: Time for Broadcasters to Join Retrans Revamp Effort

Group Points to Northwest's FCC Complaint Against DirecTV

The American Cable Association took aim Tuesday at Northwest Broadcasting's good faith bargaining complaint at the FCC, saying that it was evidence that the retransmission-consent regime is not working as well as the National Association of Broadcasters argues.

Northwest filed the complaint against DirecTV and asked the FCC to compel the satellite operators to produce evidence that its asking price was market-based.

“It is without doubt that the TV stations that filed the FCC complaint against DirecTV discarded the National Association of Broadcasters’ talking points about how retransmission consent is working perfectly and change is out of the question," said ACA president Matt Polka in a statement.

ACA, along with DirecTV, is a member of the American Television Alliance, which has been the cable industry's lead voice calling for reforming the retransmission-consent regime, an effort NAB and TVFreedom, its point group on the issue, have been resisting, arguing that the regime works fine and results mostly in deals rather than impasses like the one between DirecTV and Northwest over price.

“Judging from the TV stations’ complaint, it is evident that the retransmission consent market is broken and not working for these broadcasters any better than for cable operators," Polka said. "The time has come for these TV stations and others that have also filed good-faith complaints to step out from NAB’s long shadow and join ACA in supporting efforts to update the rules and equip them with a strong referee that can help protect consumers and competition when negotiations break down."

That referee would be the FCC, which is currently reviewing the definition of good-faith bargaining per instructions from Congress in the STELAR satellite compulsory license renewal legislation that was renewed last fall.