Five cable operators have written Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and other elected officials expressing concerns about the pending sale of Topeka’s ABC affiliate (letter to Gov. Brownback here). If approved by the FCC, the sale would give two companies control of three of the Big Four network stations in the market. The companies coordinate their retrans negotiations, so the Topeka deal could give them unprecedented power to blackout three of the market’s network stations as a negotiating tactic. ATVA urges the FCC to consider that outcome and its impact on consumers as it reviews the proposed transaction.
More broadly, absent needed reform of the retransmission consent process, broadcasters and the entities that control them will continue to use the enormous leverage conferred on them by current regulations to extract ever higher carriage fees, contrary to the public interest.