On December 1, OTI filed comments on the retransmission consent marketplace and reforming the Good Faith Retransmission Rule.
The retransmission consent regime has strayed far from its original purpose. Implemented at a time when cable providers had monopolistic control over access to video customers, the regime was intended to promote the public interest and localism by creating new rights for local broadcasters. But the regime in its current form no longer serves the public interest. Thanks to regulatory leverage granted to broadcasters, increased market power of large broadcasters and MVPDs as a result of substantial consolidation, and the pervasive use of blackouts and other measures that injure consumers as a bargaining chip in retransmission negotiations, the current regime not only fails to protect the public interest, but can harm it. PK and OTI believe that the FCC is on the right track with its proposed revisions to the good-faith negotiating standard, particularly in key areas pertaining to consumer protection.
These problems are not new, and PK and OTI appreciate the efforts of Congress to ensure that these important issues are addressed in a timely fashion by the FCC. As past petitions (such as those from Mediacom) have made clear, no simple narrative can completely explain the high costs that consumers face, nor the blackouts that plague MVPD customers. Neither “greedy cable companies” nor “greedy broadcasters” narratives fully encompasses these issues. As Public Knowledge wrote in 2014, “structural problems in the creation and the distribution of content have worked together to harm consumers.”
PK and OTI are strong advocates for video choice and competition. We advocate for increased choice for consumers, and believe that customers are best served when cable, satellite, telco, and online providers are each able to respond to customer demand and offer compelling products. Neither competition nor the public interest are served when rising programming costs force smaller MVPDs to exit the market or be acquired, or when limited consumer choice in the MVPD marketplace gives those companies greater control over program carriage.
Download the full comments below: