A Tale Of Two Disney/Time Warner Reactions

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Cable and broadcast trade associations had very different reactions to the news that The Walt Disney Co, and Time Warner Cable had resolved their carriage dispute without any viewers losing access to the programmer's cable networks or ABC stations.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, for example, pointed to it as a sign that the retransmission-consent process is working fine.

"Thousands of retransmission-consent agreements have been reached over the years," he said, "and this is just one more successful negotiation that serves to rebuke the pay-TV campaigners who seek a solution to a non-existent problem."

The American Cable Association wasn't about to shower plaudits on the negotiating process. In fact, it was more like reigning blows.

"Claiming the system works because a deal got done or because no one complained is akin to a con artist saying extortion works because no one called the police," said American Cable Association president Matt Polka. "Small and medium-sized cable operators are paying excessive fees for retransmission consent because broadcasters are able to exploit federal regulations to their advantage."

ACA was among a group of cable operators, satellite and telco companies and others that petitioned the FCC to reform the retrans system, including requiring outside arbitration for impasses and requiring signals to remain on the air past contract deadlines.

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