Kenny calls out cable on broadcast attack

1 Director Robert C. Kenny is amazed that cable can complain about the retransmission fee growth of broadcast TV even as the price of cable-only programming skyrockets. If cable channels are forced on viewers, where is the choice cable is touting?

Discussing the tactics of organization like ATVA and ACA, Kenny wrote, “Using every means at their disposal, they continue pressuring Washington lawmakers for new laws and policies that would separate out local broadcast TV stations from existing cable package offerings and, instead, would require consumers to purchase these popular local TV channels on an ‘a la carte’ basis.”

He said one result, if they are successful, is that they will have locked in an advantage over broadcast when it comes to raking in local advertising dollars.
“Ironically,” said Kenny, “their proposal is known as ‘Local Choice.’ The irony lies in the fact that their ‘a la carte’ plan– for broadcast channels exclusively– would ultimately increase the cost for pay-TV subscribers to access nation’s most popular local TV programming and news on cable and satellite TV systems, while forcing them to continue paying for cable channels as part of bundled programming packages.”

He wondered why cable needs any help at all, citing a recent ET report that pegs cable’s 2014 profit margin at 41%.

Then Kenny looked ahead to projections for the year 2020. “ACA and ATVA continue to expend a great deal of time and effort arguing that the nation’s most-watched and popular broadcast TV programming on pay-TV will increase from $4.9 billion this year to approximately $9.3 billion in 2020, yet purposely remain silent on the unfathomable expected annual cost increases that will be triggered by cable network programming and regional sports networks. By 2020, cable channel programming and regional sports networks are expected to top $50 billion and $10 billion respectively (based on SNL Kagan projections). These cost increases for less popular cable channels will dwarf those for popular broadcast-TV programming.”

Looking at it another way, he noted the every rising cost to rent the cable box needed to use the service. He said one box rental costs from three to four times as much as the retransmission fees for all four local Big Four network affiliates.

Kenny concluded, “Isn’t it time for a national conversation about what’s really driving up consumers’ monthly cable and satellite TV bills instead of focusing on one aspect of the bill: the cost of broadcast TV? The pay-TV cabal should be concerned about comprehensive reform in the U.S. video marketplace, instead of attempting to skirt the real issues and distorting the truth.”


  1. You don’t need cable. All you need is an antenna and a computer connected to the TV and you’re good to go.

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