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ACA Summit: Abdoulah Says It's Time for FCC to Call Out Broadcasters on Retrans

Slams 'Collusion' on Negotiations 3/13/2013 2:06 PM Eastern
 

A typically passionate Colleen Abdoulah threw some retrans red meat to members gathered for the annual American Cable Association Summit in Washington on Wednesday.

Kicking off the two-day event that will see those members take their beefs and "bravos" to Capitol Hill and the FCC, Abdoulah, the ACA chair and WOW! president and CEO, provided her own "Yahoo!" to the prospect of Rep. Steve Scalese's Next Generation Television Marketplace Act, which would repeal the retransmission-consent/must-carry regime as part of a general deregulatory clear-cut.

She pointed to what she said were the record 91 retrans-related blackouts in 2012 in which "millions of Americans found themselves without access to their local broadcast stations," saying reforming retrans was "critical for us and our customers."

She also lit into broadcasters "collusive" behavior of joint retrans bargaining, which she said "has to stop." Such coordination was going on in almost 20% of the local markets to drive up prices for retrans by an average of over 20%, she said, and sometimes triple digits. That's just unacceptable. It is time for the FCC to call out these broadcasters and end [the practice] immediately.

ACA has asked the FCC to disallow joint negotiations among non-commonly owned stations as part of its ownership rule review.

Abdoulah also took aim at sports programming costs. She said that her customers had to pay for NFL football programming that up to 70% of them don't want to watch. "Washington officials need to call a time out and take a look at the sports programming mess that we're in," she said.

September