PITTSBURGH, August 31, 2011 – “LIN TV’s decision today to stage a blackout against Mediacom cable customers is deplorable and should serve as a warning to the Federal Communications Commission to expect much more of the same as cable operators prepare to renew thousands of retransmission consent contracts that expire at the end of the year.
“It’s clear that the broadcasters aren’t going to temper their behavior this year just because the FCC has a retransmission consent rulemaking going on. New rules are needed from the FCC, and needed soon.
“Carriage talks between broadcasters and cable operators rest upon federal rules that were enacted nearly 20 years ago when the market was very different. Unless the retransmission consent rules are modernized, American television viewers served by cable companies will see more of broadcasters’ `blackmail or blackout’ strategy because the regulations subordinate the interests of consumers to the needs of price-gouging TV station owners.
“Blackouts by broadcasters provided free spectrum by taxpayers are intolerable. The FCC should use its pending rulemaking to establish new rules that not only ban blackouts but also prevent two or more separately owned TV stations in the same market from banding together to coordinate retransmission consent strategies designed to fleece the cable operator. Moreover, FCC rules won’t restore sanity to the market until broadcasters are stopped from discriminating against small and mid-size cable companies, which are forced to pay much higher retrans fees per subscriber than their larger pay-TV rivals in the same market.
“Broadcasters are fond of saying that 99% of retransmission consent deals get done without a fuss. Of course, that’s as logical as saying the Hindenburg made it 99% of the way across the Atlantic Ocean without a fuss. It’s a totally misleading statistic, a red herring. Just ask the Mediacom customer staring at a blank TV screen courtesy of LIN TV, a federal licensee charged with serving the public interest.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 900 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7.6 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/