Congressman channels cable lobby to FCC on retrans


Charles F. Bass (R-NH) fired off a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on the topic of retransmission consent that read like talking points from one of the cable associations. Indeed, the language was virtually identical to similar letters we’ve seen from other legislators on the same topic.

In these letters, the legislators are always hearing from small MVPDs that are having trouble dealing with the uncertainty of having to negotiate carriage. Bass wrote, “Recently, I’ve heard from a number of my state’s smaller pay-TV providers about how, as a result of these video marketplace changes, increasingly frequent negotiation breakdowns and rising retransmission consent fees result in both significant inconvenience and cost to consumers.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Should broadcaster send similar letters on this topic? “Dear FCC, it’s come to my attention that basic cable services that used to rely on modest subscriber fees to sustain their business are now selling advertisements. How can you condone this double-dip at consumer expense?”

Shouldn’t these channels be prohibited from double-dipping by collecting fees AND selling ads? Then maybe my constituents who don’t care for sports wouldn’t be so upset about having ESPN shoved down their throats and added to their bill regardless of their personal preferences.

Furthermore, there is no proof that breakdowns are “frequent” – the opposite is true – and just when there is a breakdown, it is often because of the MVPD’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith, not the broadcaster’s.

At any rate, it remains to be seen what if anything the FCC can do about it.