Broadcasters Balk At Possible Retrans Re-Do


The National Alliance of State Broadcasters (NASBA), a confederation of state broadcaster associations, have written the House Energy and Commerce Committee asking its members to oppose any attempt to "gut" the current restransmission consent system.

A top staffer to Georgia Republican Rep. Nathan Deal told B&C earlier this month that the congressman planned to introduce language to national franchising legislation that would take aim at the current system, likely by trying to unbundle negotiations for cable carriage of TV stations from carriage of co-owned cable networks owned by a TV station parent.

In a Dec. 12 letter, Deal, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and six other House members wrote of their concerns that retrans deals--in which broadcasters negotiate compensation for carriage of their TV stations on cable--have helped drive the bundling of family-friendly and unfriendly channels. That's because many deals involve not cash but agreements to carry co-owned cable networks.

NASBA argues that "retransmission consent negotiations are private, market-based negotiations between broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors. Congress should not alter a system that has evolved to benefit consumers as well as braodcasters and cable companies."