As we’ve written, media congloms such as CBS, NBC, Fox, Sinclair, Disney, Scripps have made a bundle off of a special-interest provision Congress gave them. Called “retransmission consent,” it’s permitted the already too-powerful to become even more so. At a time when nothing is being done to expand the public interest in the digital programming age, old media broadband bandits are raking it in. But they are doing so via a noxious public policy that should be revoked.
CBS’s new windfall is a good example. According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, the TV giant has “announced it has reached retransmission consent agreements with nine cable operators, covering over a million subscribers. The deals cover analog, digital, multicast and high-definition rights to CBS programming… CBS has sought 50 cents a subscriber in past dealings with cable operators and Verizon FiOS. A source familiar with the negotiations suggested that the new CBS deals are close to that figure.”
It’s time the public interest–and consumers–got a windfall. Media giants shouldn’t get government-sanctioned hand-outs (one that will be ultimately paid for by captive cable, phone and DBS subscribers). What’s needed is a new broadband policy that opens up the monopoly cable, phone and satellite giants to independent programmers. Let’s replace retranmission consent with the “Ensuring the Public Has Access to Independent, Diverse, Public Interest Digital Programming Act.”
Source:”CBS Gets Cash in Retrans Deal.” Michael Malone. B&C. 2/22/07