Fights between broadcasters and pay TV over carriage deals always makes for good copy, and a new coalition in Washington is about to make sure there's a lot more for the press to chew on.
TVFreedom.org launched today to defend broadcasters and "tell the truth" about the U.S. video marketplace.
More specifically, the organization, which counts among its members the National Association of Broadcasters and the major network affiliate groups, was formed to counter the lobbying influence of cable and satellite operators that have been pushing for retransmission consent reform as part of the American Television Alliance.
Since the ATVA was formed in July by Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish and other pay TV-providers, the group has put out a constant stream of press releases, blaming broadcasters for blackouts, high carriage fees that lead to higher subscription fees, and making its case that it's well past time Congress take a hatchet to the 1992 Cable Act that put in place retransmission consent.
TVFreedom.org is ready to engage. "TVfreedom.org will tell the truth about the state of the video marketplace and call out the pay TV industry’s inside-the-beltway gamesmanship designed solely to increase their record profits," said Robert Kenny, director of public affairs for TVfreedom.org. "It is disingenuous on the part of some cable and satellite TV providers to single out the costs associated with retransmission consent fees paid to broadcasters when less popular cable programming represents a much higher percentage of the total bill charged to consumers each month," Kenny said.
According to TVFreedom.org, 90 percent of all programming disputes involved only three companies, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, and Dish; Dish alone accounts for 50 percent of all service disruptions. Retransmission fees account for only 10 percent of the basis pay-TV bill to consumers.
The ATVA was ready with its response. "We suppose it is good news that several years after TV viewers, consumer groups and others got together to call for retransmission consent reform, it finally occurred to broadcasters to express concern about consumers. But it is too little, too late. Everyone already knows that their blackouts and old rules from the '90s have got to go," the group said in a statement.