The American Television Alliance (ATVA) is calling on Washington to reform the retrans system, using the current Cox Media/DirecTV retransmission consent impasse as exhibit A.
Cox stations in 20 markets went off the satellite operator this week after Cox said DirecTV wouldn't accept a fair price for carriage of its valuable content and DirecTV owner AT&T said Cox was seeking a "take it or leave it" price for "free" TV.
Both parties in retransmission consent negotiations are required to negotiate in good faith per FCC rules. Last year, the FCC proposed its first-ever fine for failing to negotiate in good faith, a compliant filed by AT&T.
ATVA, whose membership includes AT&T, Dish, and various cable operators, blamed broadcasters for this and other blackouts and said it was time for Washington to reform retrans, something the group has been pushing for for years.
“Even during a public health crisis, broadcasters have increasingly relied on underhanded retransmission blackouts to price-gouge American television consumers,” said Jessica Kendust, a spokeswoman for ATVA, in a statement Wednesday (Feb. 3). “Policymakers simply must hold broadcasters, like Cox, accountable for these egregious practices by advancing consumer-friendly broadcast distribution reforms.”
ATVA argues that broadcaster retrans fee increases are unwarranted while broadcasters have argued they are seeking a fair price for high-value content that has previously been underpriced.
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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.