Washington

TWC: NAB Retrans Arguments Are Off Mark

Says there is big difference between coordinated selling and coordinated buying 6/10/2013 09:01:16 AM Eastern

The battle between cable operators and the National
Association of Broadcasters continues with the weapon of choice -- the FCC
filing.

The latest was Time Warner Cable's response to NAB in the
FCC's open docket on retransmission consent reforms. Various comments are the
only action in the docket as the FCC has made no moves to adopt any of its
proposed tweaks.

In a filing dated Feb. 7, Time Warner Cable said that
despite NAB's defense of the practice, "there simply is no legal or policy
justification for such collusive negotiations."

Those are the joint sales and services agreements that cable
operators say are just a way to skirt local ownership caps and jointly
negotiate retrans.

TWC argues that the negotiations are effectively collusion
by competitors in selling goods and services, which is a violation of antitrust
law.

In its filing, NAB had claimed that TWC's argument was
hypocritical because TWC negotiates retrans for Bright House Networks. TWC says
there are big differences, including that Bright House Networks are held in
partnership with TWC, and that even if that were not the case, TWC and Bright
House are buyers, not sellers, and that antitrust law has recognized that,
unlike joint selling arrangements by competitors, joint purchasing arrangements
are generally pro-competitive, and that in any event TWC and Bright House
systems do not overlap.

TWC wants the FCC to adopt a "bright
line" rule against coordinated retrans negotiations.

 

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