Commisso Says He Will Freeze Prices If Programmers Freeze Rates


Mediacom chairman Rocco Commisso has committed to holding the "published rates" for the cable operator's most popular video service tiers -- limited and expanded basic -- for two years if the cable and broadcast network/channel owners agree to freeze their fees.

That proposal came in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee in advance of the July 24 hearing on the Cable Act, which created the retransmission-consent/must carry regime, and put an exclamation point on his argument that the price to consumers is the main issue behind retrans blackouts and the main reason why Congress should conclude that the Cable Act has not fixed the "dysfunction" in the video marketplace.

Commisso wrote that both broadcasters and cable network owners are increasing prices at an outrageous and unconscionable rate given the current economy. He said that if Congress and the FCC would back the freeze, he thought other MVPDs would join him in the pledge.

Commisso told the committee that the FCC has failed to use its "broad authority" to close gaps in the Cable Act's regulation of the marketplace, including addressing what he says is unfair bundling and pricing that restrict consumer choice.

The FCC has argued its retrans authority is limited and has not concluded that bundling violates program access rules.

Commisso said that "despite the clear and compelling evidence that the immense power held by a handful of media giants has created a dysfunctional marketplace in which the harm to consumers is compounding every year," the FCC has not acted.