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May 6, 2010
Dennis Wharton
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New Study Debunks Cable Retrans Claims

WASHINGTON -- The National Association of Broadcasters today filed a new study with the Federal Communications Commission showing that retransmission consent -- the market-based negotiation process in which a pay-TV provider and a local television station reach a carriage agreement -- is working just as Congress intended.

"The data simply do not support the claim that increases in MVPD rates are caused by rising programming costs in general, or rising retransmission fees in particular," today's study says. "To the contrary, programming costs are rising slower than MVPD revenues, slower than other components of MVPD costs, and slower than MVPD profits, while retransmissions fees make up a small fraction of programming costs, and an even smaller percentage of MVPD revenues."

NAB's filing notes that a November 2009 study commissioned by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, DIRECTV and DISH Network claims that consumers pay between $0.37 and $0.74 per month to watch broadcast programming on their pay-TV service. If accurate, these figures translate to between .75 percent and 1.5 percent of the average monthly cost for expanded basic cable. This "hardly seems excessive," today's study says.

The report also debunks cable's claim that service interruptions related to retransmission consent are routine. "Aggregate service interruptions (related to retransmission consent) continue to represent approximately one one-hundredth of one percent of annual U.S. viewing hours," today's study says. In fact, the study counters, "the average household is far more likely to be without electricity, or to experience a cable system outage, than it is to be unable to watch its favorite broadcast channel via an MVPD as a result of a retransmission dispute."

The entire study is available in PDF format here.

About NAB
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


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