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ACA Asks FCC to Investigate Retrans Payment Inequities

Small and mid-sized cable operators want the FCC to investigate the retransmission consent regime.

That came in comments by the American Cable Association in the FCC's video competition report request for information. ACA has recently ramped up its attacks on what it sees as the ongoing inequities in retrans payments.

Saying that broadcasters "routinely exploit their market power" by overcharging small operators, ACA said that was a "clear example" of a market failure that needed the FCC's attention.

ACA has long argued that broadcasters were using undue leverage to make smaller operators pay more than larger ones for programming. "If the market is functioning as flawlessly as the National Association of Broadcasters claims," said ACA President Matt Polka in those comments, "then the NAB should have no reason to oppose ACA's request for an FCC investigation."

"With major cable operators and satellite TV operators providing the bulk of their viewing audience," said Polka, "broadcasters can withhold their signals from a small cable company with little, if any, downside. Eventually, the small cable company must acquiesce to excessive prices and terms or face subscriber loss."

"This is the same old tired rhetoric from ACA," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. "The fact is that a cable subscriber is 10 times more likely to experience a complete cable system outage than to be deprived of a favorite broadcast TV channel because of a retransmission consent dispute."