Cablevision is pushing for measures that will help keep down retransmission costs, and has filed a set of proposals with the FCC that seeks to change the rules, MediaPost reported.
The current system has led to rising retrans costs, difficult negotiations between distributors and programming providers, and occasional blackouts. The cable operator wants, among other things, to "end the practice of requiring the carriage of unrelated cable channels, owned by broadcasters, in order to also carry their broadcast networks."
Cablevision says the practice effectively gives broadcasters free spectrum and raises costs to the consumer by forcing cable operators to carry channels of “limited interest” in exchange for getting major broadcast nets, the story reports.
The cable company also wants to end the practice of letting broadcasters keep their retrans prices a secret, and wants to prevent broadcasters from discriminating among cable and satellite providers based on size and other factors.
"As the FCC and Congress know, consumers are the ones who are harmed when broadcasters pull or threaten to pull their networks from cable systems," said Tom Rutledge, chief operating officer for Cablevision Systems, talking about failed retrans negotiations and the station blackouts that sometimes result.
The FCC is currently reviewing the retrans consent process.