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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 09, 2010

ACA Appeals to FCC for Widened Review Scope

By Erin Monda, TMCnet Contributor

The American Cable Association (ACA) asked the FCC (News - Alert) to widen the scope of the 2010 quadrennial media ownership review. According to the press release distributed by the American Cable Association, they plan reaching this goal by “examining whether the pooling of retransmission consent rights by local TV stations has produced a range of harmful negative effects, such as a reduction in the quality and quantity of local programming in markets across the country.”
"ACA believes the ability of one TV station to arrange cable carriage for another TV station within the same local market reduces competition among local TV stations and erodes the quality and quantity of the programming offered by these stations," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
He added, “In understanding the impact of these arrangements, an important place to begin is with a thorough review of all markets where TV stations have resisted competition and instead opted to create duopolies or entered into sharing agreements.”

The ACA asked the FCC to determine several specifics.
Firstly, the ACA is asking for the current number of instances and the history surrounding broadcasters negotiating retransmission consent on behalf of another station within the same designated market area – specifying how many of these instances involve two or more of the “big four” broadcast networks.
Secondly, the ACA wishes to know “the prevalence of joint retransmission consent negotiating arrangements through SSAs or LMAs; duopolies; and multicast duopolies.”
Thirdly, the ACA wants to be enlightened as to the “number of broadcasters negotiating retransmission consent on behalf of another station in the same DMA on the prices charged to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) for retransmission consent rights.”
According to the official quadrennial regulatory review submitted before the Federal Communications Commision, the ACA appears to be urging the FCC, as part of its media ownership proceeding, to study the effects of joint negotiations for retransmission consent among broadcasters in a single DMA on competition in local broadcast markets.

Erin Monda is a TMCnet Contributing Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda