Fox-TWC Fight Could Weaken Hold on Spectrum

By Andrew Gauthier Comment


TW, FOX ads The fight between Time Warner Cable and News Corp. over retransmission fees for Fox’s broadcast channels may make it hard for the broadcast industry to defend its precious spectrum from the cellular industry’s attempt to take it. Time Warner Cable and News Corp. are in a standoff over the fees the cable company will pay for access to Fox and Fox regional sports channels.

The fight over retransmission fees is a battle over the value of content and trying to ensure that News Corp. gets paid for broadcast and cable channels. That means broadcasters are seeking payment from the cable providers for over-the-air channels and sharing those fees among local affiliates. But a story from the Associated Press quotes an analyst who speculates that one of the big four broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) could seek to become a cable channel and dump its local affiliates within the next two years.

If one of the big broadcasters suddenly sees more value in becoming a cable provider, where it can make money from selling advertising as well as selling access to its channel to cable providers, then its spectrum, and likely that of its affiliates, suddenly becomes vulnerable. More…