ACA Launches Retrans Campaign Blaming Broadcasters

Comes as negotiations start on end-of-year carriage contracts

Hurricane season may be—thankfully—winding down, but retrans renewal season is just around the corner and the American Cable Association is referencing both in launching a new "TV Ransom" national campaign to put the blame squarely on broadcasters for TV station blackouts and escalating fees.

"Across the country hundreds of local cable operators are beginning to negotiate with a handful of corporate media conglomerates that own many of the local TV station affiliates for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC," said ACA. ""Retransmission consent should be a straight-forward business negotiation, but, unfortunately, these corporate broadcasters abuse their market power to extract outrageous fees from cable customers," ACA President Matt Polka said of the campaign's launch.

As a member of the American Television Alliance (ATVA), ACA has long been at the forefront of calling for changes to the retrans system, including arbitration for impasses and preventing blackouts. Just this week ACA pressed the FCC to declare retrans blackouts off limits as bad faith bargaining.

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ACA cited examples of what they said were abuses of the process, including broadcasters removing their signals from systems in markets threatened by hurricanes or extended blackouts.

According to a source, the campaign will be primarily online and through "media engagement" (stories like this), but ACA will also provide resources for members who want to extend it to print and TV.