NBC Universal distribution executives met with Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department staffers jointly last week to pitch the importance of retrans fees and other distribution dollars to its investment in news and entertainment programming, saying the broadcast TV business is not sustainable on ads alone.
According to a just-filed ex parte notice, Henry Ahn, executive vice president, TV Networks Distribution for NBC Universal, was making the pitch as part of a discussion of content-distribution issues related to Comcast's proposed joint venture with GE to invest in and run NBCU.
According to the filing, Ahn talked about the importance of cable's dual sub fee/ad dollar model for the cable nets, and said that given the "ongoing erosion" of broadcast TV audiences, an advertising-only model is "unsustainable." He told the FCC and Justice that it was a requirement that stations develop new revenue streams, "particularly from retransmission consent fees."
Also in the meeting with FCC staffers and one Justice Department staffer were Jodi Brenner, senior vice president, business amd legal affairs, and Margaret Tobey, vice president of regulatory affairs at NBCU.
The Aug. 19 meeting came as the FCC was collecting final public comments on the deal.