American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued May 14 the following statement on Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller's request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study the impact of TV station shared services agreements (SSAs) on consumers:
"ACA applauds Sen. Rockefeller for requesting a U.S. Government Accountability Office study on the impact of separately owned, same market broadcasters coordinating their activities.
"ACA welcomes a report that examines the widespread and increasing practice of separately owned broadcasters on the local level coordinating their sale of retransmission consent. This behavior increases broadcasters' bargaining power over ACA Members in their negotiations and drives up the cost of carriage fees for millions of consumers.
"ACA looks forward to providing the GAO with evidence we have been collecting for several years showing that Big 4 TV stations that are separately owned are coordinating their retransmission consent negotiations in at least 20% of local TV markets. ACA has documented 48 instances in 43 different markets where Big 4 stations have opted to collude on retransmission consent in an effort to deny consumers competitively determined rates.
"We are optimistic that in response to Sen. Rockefeller's request, the GAO will validate ACA's claims that broadcast stations are engaging in widespread anti-competitive coordination designed to extract excessive retransmission consent compensation from pay-TV providers as compared to broadcasters that negotiate individually."