It’s gratifying when an hour-long discussion about the contentious issue of retransmission consent concludes with unanimous agreement from broadcast and cable lawyers.
The title of the Nov. 30 webinar was “Is 2013 the Year for a Revolution in Retransmission Consent Rules?” Ultimately, all parties said, “No.”
After blaming rights holders – especially sports programmers – for the onerous prices and costly retrans battles and acknowledging that Congress has higher priorities, the panel could merely agree that retransmission consent policy revisions will be “evolutionary, not revolutionary.”
Matt Polka, president/CEO of the American Cable Association, Chris Cinnamon, partner of Cinnamon Mueller (ACA’s lobbying representative) and John Hane, an attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and counsel to TV stations (especially smaller group owners), also agreed that Congress needs a better education about retransmission consent, beyond the high-profile flare-ups and threats of popular TV channels being yanked from cable and satellite line-ups.
“Given that Congress hasn’t looked at [retrans] since 1992, there’s a perception that not much has happened,” Polka said. He suggested that “it is incumbent upon law makers” to review the retrans situation on a regular basis, much as they review the satellite carriage act every five years.
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