Congressional Research Service Report Backs ACA

A report issued to Congress by the Congressional Research Service earlier this month found that a number of federal laws and regulatory requirements -- including retransmission consent, must-carry and program-exclusivity rules -- strongly affect the contractual terms, conditions and rates paid by cable operators, particularly by small and midsized cable operators.

The report, sent to Congress July 9, also noted that structural market changes have occurred since these rules and regulations were implemented and “may be resulting in higher programming costs that MVPDs [multichannel-video-programming distributors] may have to pass on to their subscribers.”

According to the report, these changes “have given programmers with ‘must-have’ programming much greater leverage, particularly when they are negotiating with small distributors.”

The 79-page CRS report, entitled “Retransmission Consent and Other Federal Rules Affecting Programmer-Distributor Negotiations: Issues for Congress,” was prepared by Charles Goldfarb, CRS specialist in industrial organization and telecommunications-policy resources, science and industry division, at the request of Congress.

“This congressional report corroborates the arguments that the American Cable Association and its members have been making to Congress and the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] for years about how the retransmission-consent and broadcast-carriage rules harm consumers and competition, particularly those in markets served by small and midsized cable operators,” ACA CEO Matt Polka said in a press release Monday on the report.

A 25-page companion report, entitled “A Condensed Review of Retransmission Consent and Other Federal Rules Affecting Programmer-Distributor Negotiations,” was also released earlier this month.

The CRS reviewed reform proposals debated in the past.

“ACA looks forward to working with Congress on finding solutions,” Polka said.