Clyburn Calls Retransmission Consent ‘Bad Economics’ and O’Rielly Says Title VI Is An ‘Absolute Mess’
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 2018 – Appearing at the 25th ACA Summit, Federal Communications Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly both agreed that changes to telecommunications regulations are needed.
Commissioner Clyburn advocated reforming retransmission consent regulations while Commissioner O’Rielly called for a review of Title VI cable rules.
The two officials made their remarks to hundreds of Summit attendees, covering a range of issues in a discussion led by ACA Board member Tina Pigeon, who is General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Senior Vice President, Governmental Affairs, for GCI in Alaska.
Retransmission consent refers to the process by which TV stations collect fees from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). Title VI, contained in the Communications Act, largely governs the activities of cable operators.
Commissioner Clyburn, a Democrat at the FCC since 2009, noted the exorbitant escalation of retransmission consent costs during her tenure, with costs predicted to continue to skyrocket. “The numbers don’t lie,” she said.
“There is an issue out here that we can’t ignore. It is affecting your business,” Clyburn added. “I don’t know what the definition of good faith is when I see it, but I know bad economics.”
“I’m tired of you suffering from it, and I’m tired of hearing about it. We need to do something,” she continued.
Commissioner O’Rielly observed that whether or not the Telecommunications Act is reformed is up to Congress.
“I think changes are appropriate. Title VI is an absolute mess,” he said. “You can be regulated by three different regulatory bureaus or agencies, depending on if it’s wireless, satellite, or wireline.” That needs to be modernized, he said.
Commissioner O’Rielly noted that when he appeared at the ACA Summit a year ago, he promised that the FCC would deal with what he called “Tier II” and “Tier III” issues that were non-controversial among various stakeholders, including ACA members.
“I think we have done that this year,” O’Rielly said, mentioning as an example a change to analog-era FCC signal leakage regulations that were simply not applicable to digital networks.
The ACA Summit is a truly special event that allows small and midsize cable, phone and broadband companies that connect hometown America to engage with leading lawmakers and regulators as well as media representatives that report on communications policy in Washington, D.C. Created in the early 1990s, the ACA Summit gives independent operators a vehicle for framing the diverse and complex issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill and with regulators at the Federal Communications Commission.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 800 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable, phone and broadband companies who provide broadband services for nearly 8 million subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit https://www.americancable.org/