“Disney Exemption” Small Step Toward Curbing Market Abuse
PITTSBURGH, July 8, 2008-Responding to an announcement made earlier today by multibillion dollar media conglomerate Disney, Inc., that it will not force some small cable operators to pay exorbitant retransmission fees for the next three years, American Cable Association President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew M. Polka, issued the following statement:
“Today is a banner day for the cable industry. A major broadcaster and programmer has finally admitted that the retransmission consent market is broken and does not work the way Congress intended.
“For years, broadcasters and programmers have claimed retransmission consent laws benefited consumers while leveraging their unchecked market power and control to demand significantly higher fees and consideration from small and medium-sized cable operators. Today’s concession by Disney is a first step in the right direction for cable operators and, most importantly for cable subscribers, who continue to pay their monthly retransmission consent bill from Disney and other broadcast groups and media conglomerates. But to be honest, it is a very small step. Without further action on the part of Congress and the FCC to ensure true reform of the broken retransmission consent marketplace, Disney’s announcement is only a public relations ploy that amounts to far too little relief for far too few operators.”
“On behalf of the American Cable Association and the very small number of cable operators who qualify for the “Disney relief,” we say – it is about time. Disney should be congratulated for being the first to see the blinding light on this issue, but should not be given a free pass on its ongoing market abuse against other small and medium-sized cable operators who will be still charged discriminatory rates.
“The impact of this relief should be kept in clear perspective. It appears the relief would only apply to a small subset of small and medium-sized cable operators in markets where Disney owns and operates the local station – less than 1 percent of cable subscribers across the country. Disney has not indicated any intention to have its local affiliates provide relief to independent operators in their markets. This is a drop in the bucket for operators and for subscribers.
“In Disney’s mind, today’s announcement may be an olive branch to smaller operators, but this is far too little relief for far too few operators. There should be no mistake – Disney’s offer does little to change the broken retransmission consent regulations. Disney should not expect gratitude for lessening its abuse of the market, the system, or smaller operators.”
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About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 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 www.americancable.org.