NAB to FCC: MVPD Retrans Rhetoric Is Off Base, Unhelpful

Says have no bearing on needed ownership reg reforms

Broadcasters took aim Thursday at MVPD’s argument that TV stations have too much bargaining power in retransmission consent negotiations and that the FCC should apply ownership limits to their multicast streams and to LPTV stations. 

The National Association of Broadcasters was responding in reply comments to the FCC’s request for input on its upcoming Communications Marketplace Report to Congress on the state of media competition. 

Related: ATVA to FCC: Retrans is Marketplace Competition Problem 

As to MVPDs comments? NAB said essentially, “nothing to see here.” 

“[T]he predictable and unmeritorious complaints of the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) parties about retransmission consent – complaints that have not improved with age and repetition – do little to inform the FCC’s inquiries here and have no bearing on the need to reform the local TV ownership rule,” NAB said.  

Related: FCC Seeks Comment on Competition 

NAB reiterated some points that it says it has made countless times: “MVPDs’ unhappiness about paying retransmission consent fees does not mean that TV broadcasters have any undue bargaining power over MVPDs; that those fees are, in any economic sense, too high; or that changes to FCC rules intended to enhance large pay-TV/broadband companies’ position at the negotiating table are in any way justified.” 

Related: NAB to FCC: COVID-19 Challenges Emphasize Need for Dereg 

The FCC report is not expected to offer any policy recommendations, instead providing an overview of the state of competition. But NAB suggests the inescapable takeawy from that view is that broadcasters face plenty of competition from unregulated competitors and it needs room to maneuver, which means fewer ownership regs.