ATVA Response to NAB: LOL!

Broadcasters continue to defend outdated retrans regime

Washington D.C. May 30, 2013 – The National Association of Broadcasters continues to pretend there isn’t a problem with the current retransmission consent regime. On Wednesday they filed more comments with the FCC, attacking cable operators and claiming that the “justification for regulating retransmission consent payments simply does not exist.” Wrong!

Here are some facts: from 2010 to 2012, blackouts increased a whopping 658%! And as blackouts have risen, so have broadcaster revenues. According to SNL Kagan, broadcasters raked in $1.24 billion in retrans fees in 2010. By 2012, they nearly doubled that to an estimated $2.36 billion. Further, by 2018, broadcasters are estimated to demand $6.05 billion. That’s a 388% increase in just eight years!

So both blackouts and retransmission fees are skyrocketing … How do these trends in any way help television viewers?

The NAB also tells the FCC that “complaints about alleged abuses of market power by local broadcasters are simply false.” Well, if coordinated arrangements between broadcasters aren’t actually a problem, then why is the head of the Senate Commerce Committee asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate such arrangements? Sen. Jay Rockefeller is right on when he says that there are “serious questions” that need to be answered about these arrangements and the effect they have on consumers, such as whether they result in more blackouts. Clearly, the NAB is not providing Congress – or anyone else for that matter – with the answers that the public deserves.

The NAB can continue to kick and scream at the FCC, but there’s no legitimate defense of the antiquated retransmission consent rules that are leading to unprecedented blackouts and retrans revenues for broadcasters. The American public deserves video rules written in this century.

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