02.20.2006 02:03 PM
NAB challenges retransmission study

The NAB claims a recently released cable industry study “is so riff with mischaracterizations, omissions, contradictions and flawed analyses that it is of little value in any meaningful discussions about the retransmission consent marketplace.”

NAB targeted a study by Arlen Communications that analyzed small-market and rural cable system retransmission negotiations. The study found that stations not only ought to pay for carriage, but the broadcasters are currently preventing cable operators from launching new services.

The Arlen studio was released by the American Cable Association (ACA), a trade group representing rural and small cable operators. The organization is seeking changes to network non-duplication rules and exclusive contracts that bar cable operators from carrying TV stations located outside their markets. They also want cable systems to be permitted to offer stand-alone broadcast tiers which satellite TV providers now offer.

Critics say broadcasters have demanded exorbitant fees and carriage of unpopular cable channels owned by their parent companies in exchange for retransmission. Broadcasters in rural markets should be paying cable operators — and not the other way around — for carriage, said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications.

The BIA Financial Network prepared the NAB’s response to the Arlen study. It claimed the cable-backed study “mischaracterizes the outcomes of retransmission consent negotiations as being something other than the result of negotiations between two parties (local cable systems and television stations) that both are facing increased competition.”

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