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Commisso Says He Will Freeze Prices If Programmers Freeze Rates - Broadcasting & Cable

Commisso Says He Will Freeze Prices If Programmers Freeze Rates

Says price is key to retrans impasses and signals Cable Act has not repaired dysfunctional market
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Mediacom chairman Rocco Commisso has committed to freezing
the "published rates" for the cable operator's most popular video
service tiers -- limited and expanded basic -- for two years if the cable and
broadcast network/channel owners agree to freeze their fees.

That proposal came in a letter to the leaders of the Senate
Commerce Committee in advance of the July 24 hearing on the Cable Act, which
created the retransmission consent-must carry regime, and put an exclamation
point on his argument that the price to consumers is the main issue behind
retrans blackouts and the main reason why Congress should conclude that the
Cable Act has not fixed the "dysfunction" in the video marketplace.

Commisso says that both broadcasters and cable network
owners are increasing prices at an outrageous and unconscionable rate given the
current economy. He says that if Congress and the FCC would back the freeze, he
thought other MVPDs would join him in the pledge.

Commisso tells the commission that the FCC has failed to use
its "broad authority" to close gaps in the Cable Act's regulation of
the marketplace, including addressing what he says is unfair bundling and
pricing that restrict consumer choice.

The FCC has argued its retrans authority is limited and has
not concluded that bundling violates program access rules.

Commisso says that "despite the clear and compelling
evidence that the immense power held by a handful of media giants has created a
dysfunctional marketplace in which the harm to consumers is compounding every
year," the FCC has not acted.

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