Indie Broadcasters Voice Retrans Concerns

Independent video programmers, such as Outdoor Channel and members of the American Television Alliance, made a visit to the Federal Communications Commission and key congressional members last week urging a revamp of the retransmission consent rules.

A number of consumer groups, as well as cable, satellite and telephone companies, have asked the FCC to evaluate and make changes to the retrans consent rules. The FCC—weighed down by issues like the Comcast-NBC Universal deal—has yet to act.

The programmers argue the rules are outdated and give broadcasters an advantage at their
expense. “The bundling tactics of broadcasters allow them to capture a disproportionate share of the diminishing number of channels available for video programming, leaving fledgling and established independent programmers at a distinct disadvantage,” the programmers wrote in a letter.

Programmers also cited a recent CBS statement suggesting that operators could keep their retrans payments to broadcasters manageable by paying lower carriage fees to the cable networks.

Broadcasters are expected to ring up more than $1 billion in retrans fees this year and add 25 percent each year, per SNL Kagan.