Washington -- WideOpenWest CEO Colleen Abdoulah opened up the ACA Summit in Washington, D.C., by calling for Congress to reform retransmission-consent rules that she complained have left local operators paying significant increases in fees to broadcasters.
"We all know that the retransmission consent law is out of date. Modernizing this law would demonstrate that Congress is capable of acting on overwhelming evidence that broadcasters are abusing their market power to swell their bottom line," Abdoulah said during an address at Wednesday morning at the Summit, which is being held in the Grand Hyatt hotel in downtown D.C.
Abdoulah cited a recent SNL Kagan report that retransmission-consent fees increased by 50 percent between September 2009 and September 2011, noting that fees have jumped even more since then. "Obviously this study did not capture the cash grab that broadcasters just staged during last fall's retrans election cycle," she added.
Retransmission-consent reform is a key focus of this year's Summit. Disputes between cable operators and broadcasters have resulted in several TV stations pulling their signals from cable systems. LIN TV Corp. (NYSE: TVL) blacked out the signals to Mediacom Communications subscribers in Florida, Michigan, and Indiana for six weeks last fall. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) subscribers in Corpus Christi, Texas, have gone more than three months without NBC affiliate KRIS-TV and three other stations because of a dispute with Cordillera Communications.
ACA president Matt Polka will likely press FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski with questions about retransmission-consent reform during a session at the Summit Wednesday morning, and retransmission-consent is the focus of a panel at the Summit Wednesday afternoon which will feature Time Warner Cable VP of regulatory affairs Cristina Pauze and attorneys for broadcasters.
- see the release
ACA complains about ‘broadcaster collusion' in retransmission-consent deals
Time Warner Cable hands out 21,000 antennas to Texas subscribers impacted by blackout of NBC affiliate
Mediacom pay LIN TV increased retransmission consent fees to end dispute