Broadcasters use retransmission negotiations to demand huge rate hikes and force unwanted channels into program lineups, according to a retransmission negotiations survey conducted by the American Cable Association.

Additionally, cable companies are concerned that their customers often blame them for the rate hikes and unpopular channels, when in fact the broadcasters dictate how much customers are forced to pay and which channels and networks must be carried.

Among the key findings in the survey, ACA conducted a survey of its members was that 76 percent of respondents said that broadcasters employ a “take it or leave it” approach to retransmission negotiations.

Retransmission Negotiations Survey
Nearly 70 percent of cable companies stated that their top goal during retransmission consent negotiations is to keep fees as low as possible for customers.

When asked about the future of retransmission consent negotiations, 63 percent were concerned that if the process stays the same, it would harm their customers.

Among comments respondents provided in the survey were:

  • “That this is essentially not a negotiation – it is an agreement forced on us.”
  • “Cable companies have little to no negotiating power on rates.”
  • “Operators have zero leverage.”
  • “There are no negotiations.”
  • “Extreme bullying and take it or leave it attitude.”
  • “They are inflexible – there is no negotiation.”
  • “We are negotiating to keep their prices down. We are not trying to get rich with rate increases and this is the main driver of why our smaller tiers are continuing to rise while there is no value added.”
  • “…This is unsustainable and consumers will lose in the end.”
  • “The entire process of retransmission consent gives broadcasters all of the power and is anticompetitive.”
  • They are hurting consumers and putting jobs at risk as small cable fights to survive.”
  • “Cable providers are being bullied to pay ridiculous fees that are increasing at [sic] unsustainable rates.”
  • “That the one-sided nature to these negotiations has caused and will continue to cause larger and larger cable rate increases.”
  • “We are in a no-win situation and cannot control rate hikes.”
  • “That our hands are tied by outdated legislation and greedy broadcast corporations and that’s why we are unable to provide them a local choice at a reasonable price.”

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3 thoughts on “Survey: Retransmission Negotiations are More Akin to Bullying Than Negotiation

  1. These signals are FREE over the air. The local broadcasters pay none of the cost for the local video providers to receive, transport, or distribute the signals. So tell me again why the fees are so high?

    1. The position of the broadcasters is that cable operators are "modifying" the broadcast signal by receiving it and placing it on the cable system, and therefore they should be paid because of the modification. That's it. No definition of what "modify" means, because as far as I know, no cable operator has ever done anything to an off-air signal except use an antenna and processor to put that signal on their cable system. No cable operator inserts their own ads into the broadcast by covering up ads that appear on any shows. They don't alter the audio, or video. Nothing is ever done to the signal except maybe put it on a different frequency, which does nothing to the signal to make it in any way different from what one would receive via a pair of foil-tipped rabbit ears.

      These retransmission fees have been the death of small-town cable, all the little cable systems are now gone anywhere in the country, the only place where cable exists any more is in the major market cities. Cable began in small towns which were far enough away from the big cities where large towers and commercial antennas were necessary to receive a quality signal. Then programmers like CNN, ESPN, HBO, et al, came on board, which people in the major markets demanded, so cable went into the bigger cities, and that's when the broadcasters decided they wanted a piece of the action, i.e. money for those big city cable systems to carry their signals, even though they could be received for free in the SAME form as the cable system was putting out. It was a money grab, plain and simple.

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