NAB Tells FCC to Leave Retrans Alone

In reply comments on video competition, broadcasters say system is working
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The National Association of Broadcasters
weighed in Wednesday to correct what it called factual and legal inaccuracies
offered up by some multichannel video programming distributors in the FCC's
request for input on its next annual status of video competition report.

NAB says the retransmission consent regime is
working fine and increasing the quantity, quality and diversity of programming.

In
reply comments,
NAB said it would not be in the public interest
to get rid of the network nonduplication or syndicated exclusivity rules
, or to
suspend them during retrans impasses. The FCC offered up that suspension as a
possible change to its enforcement of the rules, but has taken no action on
that proposal, now more than a year old.

NAB said that without those rules, which prevent
MVPDs from importing duplicative signals from distant markets, broadcasters
would lack the economic base to support local news and information, including
during emergencies.

"[L]imiting
broadcasters' ability to enter into and/or enforce exclusive contracts would
jeopardize stations' advertising revenues because the lack of program
exclusivity in a market makes television stations less attractive to
advertisers," said NAB. "Without
sufficient advertising revenue streams, local stations cannot afford to invest
in valued informational and entertainment programming. Both local stations and
their viewers would be severely harmed if MVPDs can undermine stations'
exclusivity rights by importing distant stations' signals."

Broadcasters
also took aim at MVPD suggestions that the FCC mandate interim carriage or
outside arbitration during retrans impasses, calling both illegal. "As the
FCC has previously concluded," said NAB, "the agency
does not have the authority to implement such changes to the system of
retransmission consent under applicable law."

Lastly,
NAB said that the FCC should not prevent retrans
negotiations involving more than one station. MVPDs have argued that
broadcasters are using joint negotiations to skirt FCC local ownership rules.

"The
fact that some broadcasters are engaged in joint negotiations can reduce
transaction costs and generate other efficiencies," said NAB. Besides, it said,
"broadcasters are frequently negotiating
with MVPDs that have significant national and regional footprints." NAB also says that joint
negotiations actually result in fewer impasses.

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