Brian Cornelius, the president of Citizens Telephone & Cablevision, can see the future effects of Retransmission Consent on his company—and it’s looking grim. Under the current agreement, Citizens will experience a 105 percent increase in broadcaster fees in the next three years. That’s 50 times the current rate of inflation. “It’s crazy and unsustainable,” Cornelius says. In fact, “If gas prices did that, a tank of gas would go from about $30.00 to about $70.00.”
In December 2017, Citizens was paying $8.53 per subscriber per month in retransmission fees. This month, with no remorse, no consideration for the television consumers of Missouri, and no willingness to negotiate, broadcasters increased those fees to $14.65 per subscriber per month — a 72 percent increase. They also refused to allow Citizens Telephone & Cablevision to offer a broadcast-free cable package, which would have allowed customers to opt to use an antenna in an effort to reduce their rates. According to the FCC, Retransmission Consent negotiations are to be made in “good faith”, but broadcasters repeatedly display no willingness to bend. One broadcast company went as far as to issue a standard, automatic reply: Your offer is rejected. Eventually, Citizens was forced to pay an attorney to step in and fight the legality of a take-it-or-leave-it deal. This resulted in a minimal decrease in fees. But what about the small and mid-sized cable companies who can’t afford— and shouldn’t have to pay for— outside assistance to enforce fair conversations? “How that’s good faith negotiations, I’ll never know,” Cornelius says.