Station Stocks Slide As FCC Moves Shake Up Retrans

Stocks at some of the top station groups were clobbered Thursday after Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler proposed eliminating coordinated retransmission consent negotiations, a move that could lessen the grip some station groups have on distributors in both rural and urban markets.

Wheeler’s proposal would ban two or more separately owned stations from jointly negotiating retrans deals with distributors. In addition, the agency would adopt a “rebuttable presumption” that coordinated negotiations by any two stations in a market are not in the public interest.

Cable, telco and satellite operators alike have complained that stations that band together to negotiation retrans deals artificially drive up prices – which are passed on to consumers – when they are supposed to be competing against each other.

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