Agency Action Another Small Step In Addressing Smaller MVPDs’ Concerns With Broken Retransmission Consent Marketplace
PITTSBURGH, September 8, 2016 – American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s order abolishing the “UHF Discount,” which allowed broadcasters to reduce by half the number of households their UHF TV stations reached in determining compliance with the 39% statutory cap on the number of households a broadcaster may reach nationally for all its stations:
“ACA believes that the elimination of the UHF discount is justified by the facts, the record, and sound public policy, and that the FCC deserves praise for rejecting any number of red herrings introduced into the record by TV station owners profiting from the perpetuation of a technological relic that, following the digital transition, has allowed them to effectively serve more households than the FCC intended to be permitted under the national cap.
“While UHF stations signals were weaker than VHF signals when the discount was adopted in 1985, today the two station types are virtually interchangeable in terms of territorial reach. With the UHF discount no longer addressing any meaningful limitation on UHF station ownership, its existence only served as a means for broadcast station owners to maintain or acquire a greater share of the national audience than Congress intended. This can allow these owners to attain significant leverage over MVPDs in retransmission consent negotiations – a result causing harm to competition and to consumers through more massive fee hikes or more high-impact signal blackouts or both. With large-scale consolidation occurring in the broadcast television industry in recent years and expected to continue, the FCC is right to act now.
“ACA supports the FCC’s decision to both grandfather existing combinations and to specify that any grandfathered ownership combination subsequently sold or transferred would be required to comply with the national ownership cap in existence at the time of the transfer. For the past 15 years or so, industry participants have effectively been on notice that the FCC expected to eliminate the UHF discount following the completion of the DTV transition. They purchased their stations with that risk factor squarely before them and have benefited from their ownership in the intervening years.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit https://acaconnects.org/