Cable Ops Want To Tier Retrans Stations

Mid-sized cable operators ask FCC to move retrans stations off the must-buy tier as one way to reform retransmission consent process

A group of mid-sized
cable operators have asked the FCC to move retrans stations off the must-buy
tier as one of the ways to reform the retransmission consent process.

That came in a filing May 18 at the FCC, which is seeking comment on what, if any, changes to make
to the retransmission consent regime. The operators making the pitch were
Massillon Cable TV, WaveDivision Holdings, NPG Cable Inc., the Comporium Group,
and Harron Communications.

They say that allowing
cable operators to place "for-pay retransmission consent signals" on a
separate, non-mandatory, tier would allow customers to not pay for broadcast
channels. Currently, both must-carry and retrans stations must be offered on
the basic tier, while operators have the freedom to place cable channels on
different tiers.

"For there to be truly a free market, television
broadcast stations that require a free for retransmission should be treated no
better than any satellite acble programmer and should lose all rights to be
carried on the mandatory basic tier."

The operators also want
the FCC to get rid of the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity
rules so that cable operators have an alternative. Those rules prevent
competing network affiliates or syndicated programs to be imported into markets
in competition to local stations with the same content.


Passing the Retrans Buck

In the latest salvo in the battle between cable operators and broadcasters over pay for play, Charter Communications will start itemizing the price increases it says it has to pass along to customers because of retransmission consent costs.