ATVA: F Is For Fantasy, Not Freedom

It was a case of dueling ads Wednesday as the American Television Alliance took out its latest ad in the war with broadcasters over retrans reform. The rhetoric is heating up as the Hill looks at satellite legislation.

While broadcasters were using March Madness to suggest MVPDs were manipulative, ATVA was suggesting broadcasters were clueless.

Keeping with its 1970s theme of broadcasters as living in another era, ATVA's latest volley is called TV Fantasy Land.

That fantasy, says ATVA, is that broadcasters want a free ride courtesy of retrans. "Don't be fooled when broadcasters use the 'F' word," says the ad. "They don't really want freedom [the broadcaster coalition is] for viewers or a free market for programmers and providers."

ATVA, whose members include cable operators, satellite operators, telcos and Public Knowledge, want Congress to use the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) as a vehicle for retrans reform, while broadcasters are fighting for a "clean" bill.

Representatives from both Dish and Public Knowledge were making their case at a Senate Judiciary Hearing on STELA Wednesday, while a broadcast representative offered up their arguments.

A fairly clean STELA draft has already cleared at least one hurdle, passing out of the House Communications Subcommittee, but still with issues to be resolved. The legislation will get a once over from at least four different committees before its must-passage by the end of the year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.