Viacom: Retrans Consent Working Well

Shooting back at some cable operators, Viacom Inc. said Thursday that retransmission consent is not responsible for rising cable rates and the ability of broadcasters to tie access to local TV stations to carriage of cable networks is a long-standing industry practice consistent with antitrust laws.

“The growth in retail cable rates charged by (cable and satellite) has far outstripped programmers’ license fee increases,” Viacom told the Federal Communications Commission.

At the request of Congress, the FCC is studying the impact of retransmission consent — or the right of TV stations to seek compensation for carriage — on the pay-TV market.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable, told the FCC that retransmission consent has developed into an “onerous” burden and urged the FCC to ask Congress to “re-evaluate” the scheme.

Time Warner said that retransmission consent, among other things, has encouraged broadcasters to invest in cable programming while the intent of Congress was for expanded investment in broadcast content.

“Retransmission consent’s unintended consequence, then, was to channel investment away from over-the-air broadcasting and towards non-broadcast video programming services,” the MSO said.