Cable Providers Offer a Proposal to Prevent Future Blackouts

Sep 10, 2013  •  Post A Comment

In the wake of the CBS-Time Warner Cable retransmission dispute, which left consumers in a number of markets unable to access CBS programming for a month, cable and satellite providers will appeal today to Congress to let them use distant network signals when they’re involved in retrans negotiations, TVNewsCheck.com reports. The idea is being presented as a way to avoid future blackouts.

“’Without immediate action by Congress … it seems likely that millions more screens will go dark every year, and consumers will pay more and more for their cable and satellite service,’ R. Stanton Dodge, EVP and general counsel of Dish Network, will testify during a hearing before a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee, according to an advance copy of his written testimony,” the story reports.

The piece adds: “But the National Association of Broadcasters will urge lawmakers to veto the pleas for relief. ’A change in the law that would permit a satellite carrier to import a distant signal — not based on need, but to gain unfair market leverage in a retransmission consent dispute — would be contrary to decades of congressional policy aimed to promote localism,’ Gerard Waldron, a communications attorney who is testifying in NAB’s behalf, will say, according to the text of his written testimony for the hearing.”

Waldron is also expected to argue that permitting cable and satellite proveders to import network signals would jeopardize the viability of local network affiliates, the piece reports.

The report adds: “Among other arguments, Waldron will contend that viewers are far more likely to lose access to TV programming from power outages than from retransmission consent bargaining impasses. In addition, he will charge that that 89% of the recent ‘service disruptions’ resulting from negotiating impasses have involved three companies — Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish.”

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