Retransmit This, If You Can

The Fox-Cablevision dispute may signify when things start to change in terms of the retransmission consent/must-carry rules, so said Matt Polka of the American Cable Association at MTA’s Video Peer Group meeting in Nisswa, MN. Retransmission legislation was a catalyst for the birth of the American Cable Association some 18 years ago. He pointed out that this high-profile dispute has wide-ranging consequences and could affect the Comcast-NBC merger as well as be a catalyst that determines whether the broadband content market moves to a wholesale model.

In comments made at the MTA, Polka argued that the rules put in place 18 years ago need to change to reflect the ensuing media consolidation. He argued that this isn’t a classic market situation due to the imbalance in power between the media conglomerates and the smaller operators, represented by the ACA. Big money politics complicate the issues, as he touches upon in this brief video interview.  In the interview, he references the American Television Alliance, which is a broad coalition of independent programmers, cable, telco and DBS operators that are raising visibility on these issues.

From a politician’s standpoint, these issues tend to be lower on the priority list compared to everything else that befalls Washington, so change to the rules is glacial. Polka suggests starting at the grass-roots level and, as such, he encourages his members to affect change to the legislation and regulation by educating customers regarding the cost of programming.