Cable and broadcast trade associations had very different
reactions to the news that Disney and Time Warner Cable had resolved their
carriage dispute without any viewers losing access to Disney cable nets
or ABC stations.
NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton, for example, pointed to it
as a sign that the retransmission consent process is working fine.
"Thousands of retransmission consent agreements have been reached over
the years," he said, "and this is just one more
successful negotiation that serves to rebuke the pay-TV campaigners who
seek a solution to a non-existent problem."
The American Cable Association wasn't about to shower
plaudits on the negotiating process. In fact, it was more like reigning
blows. "Claiming the system works because a deal got done or because no
one complained is akin to a con artist saying
extortion works because no one called the police," said American Cable
Association President Matt Polka. "Small and medium-sized cable
operators are paying excessive fees for retransmission consent because
broadcasters are able to exploit federal regulations
to their advantage."
ACA was among a group of cable
operators, satellite and telco companies and others who petitioned the
FCC to reform the retrans system, including requiring outside
arbitration for impasses and requiring signals to remain on
the air past contract deadlines.