Hill Hears It on Retrans Reform


Satellite Company EchoStar and a group of small, independent and rural cable and telecommunications companies have written a letter to House and Senate members asking them to institute retransmission-consent reform.

They argue that "escalating retransmission-consent demands" result in higher cost, less choice and "objectionable" programming, all hot-button issues in the Congress. Broadcasters can elect either to require cable to carry their signal (must-carry), or negotiate payment for their signal, in which case they have no guarantee of carriage.

Historically, retransmission-consent deals have more often included carriage of co-owned cable channels rather than cash, which gives rise to the charge that cable operators are carrying channels they would not otherwise choose for their lineups.

Broadcasters counter that they are simply getting fair compensation for the high-value braodcast channels that cable needs to attract subscribers.

Also signing on to the letter were the Broadband Service Providers Association, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, the Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies and the NTCA (that's National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, not to be confused with NCTA, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association).