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D.C. Reacts to Retrans Resolution

There was a mix of reaction in Washington to the news Monday that CBS and Time Warner Cable had resolved their carriage dispute, but retrans reformers wanted to keep striking before the iron had cooled.

The National Association of Broadcasters was pleased with the deal, but took the opportunity to point to what it suggested were the primary MVPD culprits in retrans disputes.

"The unfortunate reality is that in the last two years, 89% of all retransmission consent disruptions have involved three companies: Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and DISH," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement. "Rather than create a manufactured 'crisis' that would inject government into the free-market, these three firms might better spend their time working toward amicable resolutions over TV programming most valued by viewers."

American Cable Association President Matt Polka didn't want the relief that the blackout was over to obscure what he saw as the underlying issue: "The point that no one should miss is that CBS' massive blackout of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks showed that the retransmission consent market is broken and outdated rules governing these negotiations need to be updated to reflect current market conditions," Polka said. "If CBS can leave millions of pay-TV viewers in the dark for 32 days, no one can say with a straight face that the marketplace is working well for consumers."

ACA and Time Warner Cable are both members of the American Television Alliance (ATVA), which has been pushing for retrans reform at the FCC and in Congress.

Public Knowledge, another ATVA member, said it was good that cable customers now had access to CBS programming, including online. But it said that if any good comes of the blackout, it would be to "focus policymaker's attention on a dysfunctional video marketplace that is not serving the needs of viewers."