NAB Still in the Dark

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 13, 2011 – This week brought fresh statements from the FCC on the necessity for its pending rulemaking on retransmission consent.  Yesterday in remarks to broadcasters, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said broadcaster blackouts last year “that seriously frustrated viewers, including the World Series blackout last October” prompted the FCC to assess “the impact on consumers of retrans fees for ‘free’ broadcast TV.” Also yesterday, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said she is “on the lookout for the consumers in this country, and if the market isn’t working, we need to consider taking appropriate steps” in the rulemaking.

Clyburn’s remarks came in a speech to the American Cable Association in Washington, D.C.  Executives from small and medium-size cable companies — who were among the more than 300 participants at ACA’s 18th Washington Summit this week — were in town to tell Congress to ensure that the FCC makes meaningful reforms to outdated retran rules.

Meanwhile, NAB President & CEO Gordon Smith maintained that the “{retransmission consent} system works” and “the issue is quiet until a contract can’t be settled.” Retransmission consent is anything but quiet with FCC leaders reaffirming the need for a fresh look at outdated rules and with hundreds of small and medium cable operators making the case for reform in the halls of Congress. The only “quiet” is when broadcasters pull the plug on millions of viewers, as they did last year and continue to do in 2011. We applaud the FCC leadership for initiating the rulemaking and look forward to final rules that balance the scales and protect consumers from broadcaster abuse.