NAB on Retrans: It Ain't Broke


The National Association of Broadcasters warns the FCC against micromanaging retransmission consent negotiations and ticks off the things it thinks would be doing just that.

In its comments in the FCC's retrans rule review -- due May 27 at the commission -- NAB says that "substantial and numerous changes," which have been sought by cable and satellite operators, are unwarranted.

NAB supports expanding notification of potential signal-drops to non-cable MVPDs and making sure that early termination fees are not an obstacle to switching service in the "very rare" instances in which impasses affect their access to TV programming.

But aside from that, NAB says retrans ain't broke and doesn't need fixing. Its list of unnecessary and harmful changes include 1) prohibitions on joint negotiations; 2) government-mandate mediation; 3) define good faith bargaining in terms of fees, terms or conditions of deals; 4) scrapping the syndicated exclusivity and network no duplication rules; 5) adding violations of good faith bargaining to the factors considered at license renewal time.

The FCC has proposed getting more specific on the definition of good faith bargaining, and has proposed scrapping those two rules. Various cable  operators argue that the FCC needs to step in to break up joint bargaining, untie retrans deals from co-owned cable channels, make stations make their prices public, and much more.