Skip to main content

Retrans Ruckus

Related: ATSC 3.0 at Center of New Retrans Crossroads

While the National Association of Broadcasters and the American Television Alliance (ATVA) have been trading blows over retrans for years, the rhetoric has gotten even more heated of late.

After Dish—in meetings with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and other commission officials—accused broadcasters of using their viewers as “sacrificial pawns” in retrans negotiations, the National Association of Broadcasters fi red back, calling Dish the “ultimate regulatory profiteer,” with a “sordid” history of bending laws and rules, while calling out ATVA at the same time.

The NAB argues that there is no need to modify the good-faith standard for retrans negotiations and that the regime is working fi ne. Dish and ATVA argue the system is broken and that broadcasters leverage their signals to strike unfair deals and hurt consumers. They also believe the FCC should expand its definition of what is not in good faith to include blackout, joint retrans deals and charging MVPDs for all viewers, including those that get their channels over the air.

“Dish and ATVA have implored the Commission to craft a host of new good-faith rules that will quell what they characterize as a surfeit of broadcaster bad behavior,” the NAB said. “Never mind, says Dish, that it alone was involved in half of all retransmission consent disputes in 2015. Only Dish has the gall to approach the Commission seeking favors when it is the primary driver of disputes.”

The suggestion that Dish was a prime retrans offender clearly did not sit well with ATVA. The association fi red back that broadcasters have a “shameful record of consumer exploitation,” and that the NAB was trafficking in “shameful fabrications.”

“It is an indisputable fact that broadcasters are responsible for each and every one of the record-setting 193 consumer blackouts in 2015 and the 26 TV blackouts to date this year,” said ATVA spokesperson, Trent Duffy.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.