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NAB on Retrans: There's 'Snow' Problem

Analog broadcasters didn't like "snow" on the screen, but digital broadcasters are using it to make a point about retrans.

The National Association of Broadcasters took out an ad in the National Journal Thursday showing a mother sharing in the delight of her small child as the school closing announcement, with a wintery scene, comes on the TV screen.

"Informing our communities. Helping neighbors in need. Providing a lifeline during times of crisis," the ad reads. "Local TV stations are compensated when cable and satellite companies retransmit our signals and sell them to subscribers. This retransmission consent revenue enables stations to do what we do best – staff top quality newsrooms, cover pending storms and produce content that consistently dominates primetime program ratings. The best part? You can still get it for free, over the air with an antenna. No monthly service required."

The ad is just the latest in the image battle between broadcasters and MVPDs over retransmission consent and blackouts. Cable operators argue that blackouts are consumer-unfriendly tactics by broadcasters with an unfair regulatory advantage. Broadcasters argue they are infrequent byproducts of tough negotiations for high-value content, but content that is also always available over the air for free.

"When the free market works, viewers win," the NAB ad says. An NAB spokesman added that it was part of a continuing effort to "correct misinformation."