WASHINGTON, DC -- Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) arguments in a recent filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the retransmission consent process are hypocritical and meritless, the National Association of Broadcasters said in a filing submitted to the FCC today.
"TWC's latest missive merely rehashes stale arguments TWC has made in a collection of filings in this proceeding," said NAB in the filing. "These arguments have been expressly rejected time and again by the FCC. In several instances, moreover, TWC urges the FCC to adopt rules for broadcasters that TWC would vehemently oppose if such rules were applied to it. TWC’s hypocritical, meritless arguments have not improved with time or repetition. "
NAB’s filing refutes TWC's calls for the FCC to impose interim carriage and/or mandatory arbitration during retransmission consent disputes by citing the Commission's past statements that it does not have the authority to impose either practice. NAB also cited TWC leading the charge by the pay-TV industry in opposition to FCC rules requiring interim carriage of cable network programming during program carriage complaints as evidence of TWC’s hypocrisy.
In response to TWC urging the Commission to adopt regulations limiting TV broadcasters from fully controlling video content on their websites, NAB said video content providers make video content available online under a wide range of prices, terms and conditions as a general rule and should not be regulated by the FCC or any other entity.
"Broadcasters are not under any legal or regulatory obligation to provide online content," said NAB. "For many broadcasters, it serves a promotional function. The argument that broadcasters – and only broadcasters – should be penalized for seeking to control their digital rights is simply wrong on its face."
In its filing, NAB said TWC is clearly wrong to claim the FCC has been "unwilling to enforce" good faith requirements. NAB cites that TWC has failed to file even a single good faith negotiation complaint and, in fact, TWC includes no evidence of specific broadcaster conduct that is in violation of the Commission’s rules. As NAB points out, the only instance in which a party has been found to exercise good faith was where a cable operator failed to do so.
NAB reiterated that, contrary to Time Warner Cable's claims, retransmission consent is a market-driven process that provides incentive to both broadcasters and programmers to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. TWC claims it is disadvantaged during retrans negotiations because of changes in the video marketplace that have made it more competitive. As NAB points out, broadcasters have continued to adapt to new competitors in the television industry throughout our history.
"We have innovated to survive in a marketplace of robust competition from other stations, cable programming networks, cable and satellite operators, and myriad online competitors," said NAB. "After enjoying monopolies or near-monopolies in local markets for so long, the cable industry apparently believes that only government intervention can protect it from the brave new world of competition. Changes to the marketplace in no way undercut the need for a market-based mechanism for negotiation of retransmission consent."
The pay-TV industry led by Time Warner Cable, DISH and DIRECTV has attempted to manufacture a crisis in order to force government intervention in the retransmission consent marketplace. NAB continues to urge the FCC and Congress to reject their bad behavior and continue to support a system that allows broadcasters to be compensated for the most-watched programming on TV.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.