Editorial: Broadcasting ‘and’ Cable

Broadcasters and cable operators have been fighting a pitched battle in Washington over retransmission consent, where the rhetoric is often heated and tends to belie their common interests.

Broadcast programming is still the highest-rated category of programming on cable, and broadcasters reach most of their audience over a wire rather than an antenna. Yes, NCTA, cable’s top shows— like The Walking Dead—give broadcasters a run for their ratings money, and yes, NAB, some are cutting the cord. But when the disagreements over price and carriage are eventually resolved, as they almost always are, the result is a symbiotic programming and distribution relationship that benefits both, as well as the viewing public.

We make the point as B&C salutes the newest class of its Hall of Fame inductees in New York this week (see special section), drawn from the best of all the media worlds.

All you have to do is watch CNN or the network evening news to realize that the industry is fortunate that its battles are in the boardroom or over the negotiating table, and the combatants can be civil between fights over deal points.

So, for a night at least, it’s fitting and proper to put away the rhetorical slings and arrows and celebrate a pretty terrific business.