Statement by Charles Segars, CEO, Ovation on Current Retransmission Consent Rules and the Conflict Between Cable and Satellite Distributors and Media Companies
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — “The existing retransmission rules were written into law in 1992, before the Internet, smart phones and tablets existed. Unfortunately for consumers, the large media companies are bundling their ‘must carry/retrans’ broadcast stations with their cable nets, ultimately forcing carriers to pay more for their content. But bundling tactics also decrease carriage space and the rates paid to independent networks and, once again, it is the consumers who end up paying the price, literally.
“In the year since I testified before Congress on this very subject, nothing has changed. In fact, during that testimony, News Corp’s Chase Carey told Congress: ‘It is critically important that the government not let a sector of private industry manipulate an honest process to gain advantage.’ While he may have been speaking of the distributor, the same comment holds true for FOX and the other integrated broadcast and cable network companies.
“American media is a highly regulated industry; anyone who says otherwise is misleading. The effect of the 1992 act was to re-regulate media, not de-regulate. The retransmission consent rules put in place nearly 20 years ago may have worked for the time, but no one should pretend that they represent anything close to a ‘free market.’ With the advance of time and technology, what was once a ‘fair’ approach is now not. What is needed is a revision of current regulations to shift the balance of power so we can all focus on those who really matter: our consumers.
“Big media programmers and distributors need to stop worrying about ‘winning’ and concentrate on doing what’s right. Their broadcast stations were built on public airwaves and are now being used to extract more money and share of channel supply. It is time to revise the antiquated retransmission rules and create a level playing field where independent media voices can flourish and cable networks are carried based on the quality of their content, not the misappropriated power of their owners.”
About Charles Segars
Charles Segars is the CEO of Ovation, the only television and multi-platform network celebrating all forms of artistic expression. Ovation is an independently owned network that reaches a national audience of 44 through distribution on cable systems across the country, as well as on satellite and telco systems. Mr. Segars was part of the panel asked to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet on the topic of “Television Viewers, Retransmission Consent, and the Public Interest” on November 17, 2010. The hearing was led by Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass) and included the testimony of Charles Segars; Chase Carey, deputy chairman, president and COO of News Corporation; Glenn Britt, chairman, president and CEO of Time Warner Cable; Joe Uva, then CEO and president of Univision Communications; and Tom Rutledge, COO of Cablevision Systems Corp.