If you live in one of certain key markets – such as Green Bay, WI; Buffalo, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Dayton, OH; Austin, TX; Toledo, OH; Springfield, MA; Fort Wayne, IN; Mobile, AL; Terra Haute, IN; or Columbus, OH – you may have a keener interest in the issue of retransmission consent than other readers of this blog.
The basics: Cable operators and other Multichannel Video Programming Distributors can’t retransmit broadcast signals (such as NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox) without first obtaining the broadcaster’s consent.
TV station group LIN TV and Time Warner Cable have been in negotiations, but haven’t reached an agreement. At midnight last Friday morning when the existing carriage deal expired, LIN pulled the signals of 15 stations in 11 markets from Time Warner systems, which affects about 2.7 million of their subscribers.
While negotiations continued over the weekend, alternatives were promoted. LIN suggested Time Warner customers could switch to such competitors as Dish Network or FiOS TV. Time Warner has given away around 50,000 antennas to allow over-the-air reception of those broadcast signals and has also produced an online video that shows people how they can watch some broadcast programming over the Internet for free.
If you missed NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow on C-SPAN’s The Communicators Saturday night, you can now watch the episode online (or catch the repeat tonight on C-SPAN 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET). One of the first questions he addressed was the issue of retransmission consent. NCTA has expressed concern that a number of carriage deals are set to expire at the end of this year, about six weeks before the Digital Television Transition occurs on February 17. There is potential for consumer confusion and disruption with these deals being renegotiated during this period.
While the NAB has volunteered a four-week quiet period surrounding the DTV transition date – two weeks before Feb. 17 and two weeks after – McSlarrow has proposed that a slightly longer quiet period would be beneficial for consumers, while hardly tipping the balance of power in retrans negotiations.