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ACA Joins Broad Alliance To Further Retransmission Consent Reform

 

The American Cable Association has joined a broad and unprecedented coalition made up of consumer groups, cable operators, satellite providers, phone companies, and independent programmers to shine a spotlight on broadcasters' increasing use of showdown tactics and brinksmanship in retransmission consent negotiations that cause disruption, uncertainty and even television blackouts.

"We've come together because we all recognize that consumers aren't getting a fair shake from broadcasters, and face an unfair choice: Pay more for their favorite programs, or have them taken away," said Matthew M. Polka, President and CEO of the American Cable Association. "Working together with this diverse coalition, we're going to fight hard to make sure viewers have a voice and Congress or the FCC addresses this important problem."

ACA will continue to urge Congress and the FCC to prevent broadcasters from charging small cable operators excessive and discriminatory fees for retransmission consent as well as examine dozens of markets where broadcasters have created "virtually" duopolies -- especially among Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) local stations -- in order to gain even more bargaining leverage over ACA members and other MVPDs.

The 31-member coalition, called the American Television Alliance (ATVA), will focus on preventing consumer confusion, disruption and ever increasing rates that result from outdated rules governing these carriage negotiations.

Under the current law, broadcasters are allowed to cut off their television signals and shows from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and consumers if they do not receive the compensation they demand.

In the nearly 20 years since retransmission consent was created, the television market has evolved dramatically. While consumers have more choices for video programming than they did in 1992, broadcasters benefit from several outdated rules that give them the incentive and ability to withhold programming -- using consumers as pawns in retransmission consent negotiations.

In addition to ACA, the coalition includes AT&T, Cablevision, DIRECTV, DISH Network, The New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and other groups.

The breadth and diversity of this new coalition demonstrate the urgent need for change. As evidenced by recent showdown negotiation tactics on the part of broadcasters, consumers are caught in the middle and face uncertainty, service disruptions, and constantly increasing fees.

As part of its official launch, the American Television Alliance created a new website, www.AmericanTelevisionAlliance.org, which will become a place where consumers can visit to learn more about the issue, sign up for updates, and take steps to ensure that broadcasters don't prevent them from being able to view their favorite programs.

The ATVA also unveiled a new ad campaign highlighting a core message of the group that the time has come to give viewers a voice.

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