NAB tells FCC that retransmission policy is not broken


So don’t “fix” it, since there is nothing wrong with congressionally-mandated free-market negotiation process that currently allows broadcasters and MVPDs to arrive at a fair, negotiated compensation package for broadcast television programming retransmission rights.

NAB asked the FCC to “resist requests to micromanage the negotiation of thousands of complex retransmission agreements among broadcast stations and multichannel video programming distributors. Substantial or numerous changes in the Federal Communications Commission’s existing retransmission consent rules are not warranted, and in fact would be harmful because they could skew or alter the existing retransmission consent system that presently is functioning very effectively. Accordingly, NAB encourages the Commission to recognize (as it has historically) that the current process provides demonstrated economic efficiencies and public benefits and has fulfilled Congress’ intention in creating it.”

NAB pointed out, yet again, that disruptions of service resulting from negotiating impasses are rare – since 2006, it has affected 0.01% of total viewing hours. And it said that consumers should have the legal right to terminate service and search for an alternative to an MVPD if the consumer wants to get its programming from another source.

NAB made several other points:

* There is no basis of any kind to prohibit joint negotiations by broadcasters that are not commonly owned.

* The FCC does not have the authority to impose arbitration, binding or not, since it would amount to the FCC imposing its own judgment on the state of a negotiation over that of the negotiating parties.

* The FCC has no authority adopt rules that would in any way constrain the fees, terms and conditions of retransmission consent agreements.

* MVPDs can not ignore program exclusivity rules to gain access to the programming in question in a stalemated negotiation with the local broadcast supplier.

In conclusion, NAB stated, “Finally, NAB believes that the FCC should continue to use its existing procedures to enforce the good faith rules, rather than to attach specific remedies to particular conduct, such as providing special consideration of good faith violations in the context of the license renewal process. The importance of reaching agreement with MVPDs that serve very high percentages of broadcasters’ viewers effectively ensures that local stations diligently negotiate to conclude retransmission agreements with MVPDs in a timely manner.”