Time Warner, Dish team up to lobby FCC on retrans agreements

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 15-11-2011

Time Warner Cable, Dish Network and the American Cable Association (ACA) have sent a letter to regulator the FCC lobbying for a reformation of the retransmission rules with local TV affiliates.
The companies have found themselves paying ever-increasing fees to carry the local programming, under threat of blackout.
Of all the industry realities that need to be reconsidered they said is the tendency for disparately-owned stations to negotiate under one umbrella, which raises the stakes for the operator.
"It is a prevalent practice, with at least 36 pairs of separately-owned Big Four affiliates stations in 33 markets, actually engaging in coordinated negotiations through use of a single bargaining representative," the companies wrote in the letter.
The companies also said that the FCC should review the impact of consolidation (the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger makes Comcast one of the largest station-owners in the United States) and the fact that the rules give station owners too much leverage thanks to blackout threats.
"The outcome [of consolidation] is often the same: layoffs of station staff, reduced journalistic independence, and diminished competition for audiences, advertisers and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) that carry these stations through retransmission consent agreements," the cablecos’ letter reads.
The letter was also signed by Free Press and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.