Networks: Retransmission Consent Working Well


The "Big Four" broadcast networks claim that retransmission consent is working well, reflecting congressional design that TV stations should no longer subsidize their most potent competitors: cable operators.

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox told the Federal Communications Commission that the fact that Cox Communications Inc. and American Cable Association members can't retransmit broadcast programming free-of-charge does not mean negotiations between broadcasters and cable operators were broken.

"Congress established the current retransmission-consent regime to `help preserve local broadcasting service to the public.' The complaints of [Cox and the ACA] are little more that ill-considered attempts to revisit and defeat the retransmission-consent process," the Big Four said in a Sept. 26 filing.

Cox and the ACA have complained that the networks withhold their broadcast signals unless cable systems agree to pay more for cable programming they may not want to carry. The MSOs have also stated that cash deals for just the broadcast signal were rare because the networks demand unaffordable prices. But the networks insisted that the market is working properly.

"Whether Cox or any cable operator carries affiliated programming channels or pays cash is the result of its choices made in marketplace negotiations. Cox has offered no evidence whatsoever that these negotiations fail to maximize consumers, broadcaster and cable-operator welfare," the networks said.