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FCC Makes NCTC Retrans Protections Official

The FCC has released its order implementing a congressional directive to give MVPD buying groups negotiating with TV station groups the same good-faith negotiation protections as individual MVPDs have when negotiating retrans. 

Smaller cable operators have banded together under the National Cable Television Cooperative to negotiate better deals for TV station carriage than they could on their own when going up against large TV station groups. 

NCTC collectively represents "hundreds" of smaller operators in programming negotiations, including broadcast stations, but is not currently covered by the FCC's requirement that those negotiations be conducted in good faith, as they must be with individual MVPDs. 

Related: ACA Connects Pushes for NCTC Retrans Recognition 

The FCC decision means buying groups will come armed with that new status when some retrans agreements come due at year's end. 

The FCC is defining large broadcast group as one with a national audience reach of more than 20% collectively and a qualified buying group one representing MVPDs none of which have more than 25% of all households in their market. 

The FCC was implementing the mandate in the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (TVPA) to give MVPD buying groups that status, something ACA Connects (ACAC) had pushed the FCC to do for years. ACAC represents small and midsized members. 

"ACA Connects welcomes the FCC’s decision to implement provisions of the Television Viewer Protection Act that permit buying groups representing smaller multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to negotiate retransmission consent agreements with large television broadcasters," said ACA Connects president Matthew Polka. "The FCC’s action will benefit both the MVPD members of such buying groups and the broadcasters with whom such buying groups negotiate. 

“We especially appreciate the FCC’s decision to interpret the key statutory terms ‘large station group’ and ‘qualified MVPD buying group’ in a manner consistent with the statutory text...."