Broadcast lobbyists are asking a pair of congressmen to rethink
their call for changes to the retransmission consent regime, suggesting they
were making claims that could not be supported.
In a letter to Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY),
lobbyists for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo and the National Association
of Broadcasters said the retrans system was fair and there was no justification
for government intervention.
They were responding to Israel and King's letter to FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski, being circulated among their Hill colleagues for
signatures, that asks for a rulemaking on retrans citing "harm to
consumers under the present system."
The FCC was petitioned by cable, satellite and telcos to step
in, but has not done so yet. Most of those same companies last week launched a
new organization, the American Television Alliance, to lobby for retrans
In their response,
the broadcasters, saying they were speaking for millions of viewers and
thousands of employees, argued that it was a "fair, transparent and
market-based system" that was working.
They said there was no evidence to support the congressmen's
assertion that, under that system, viewers "either lose access to
broadcast programming or must bear the increased costs of such programming in
the form of higher cable and satellite rates."
They also invoked 9/11 to the New York legislators, saying
that retrans fees helped "support the emergency services that alert
residents to dangerous weather and provide life-saving information during public
emergencies, as was demonstrated in the vital role New York City broadcasters
played during the 9/11 attack on and around your districts."