I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal headlined "FCC Seeks Ways To Halt Blackouts In TV-Fee Fights" and I have some thoughts on the matter.
First off I am interested in seeing the FCC regulations or US code that allows for networks/stations to charge a fee for retransmitting their signal.
Since stations have been allowed to charge for retransmit, monthly cable bills have been rising out of control.
As I understand the retransmit for fee regulation, it allows a network who transmits the primary broadcast to collect a fee from the cable provider when they retransmit the broadcast to their subscribers.
The problem with this is, most cable channels never originate a primary broadcast to the community, national or local. The cable provider is actually originating the primary broadcast for these channels thereby making a retransmit fee not necessary.
Local networks broadcasting to the community would certainly qualify to collect a retransmit fee from the cable provider, however I feel that this practice should stop.
It is only a benefit to the local network to be included on the cable provider's channel lineup. Without this inclusion, the viewership for these local broadcasters would be diminished and ad rates would suffer.
As the local stations benefit from inclusion, so do the cable channels. Without the cable provider broadcasting their signals, the cable channels have nothing, no audience, no ad revenue. Their channel would not exist if not for the cable provider.
These retransmit fees should all be done away with, as the consumer is ultimately the one who pays and they have no say in the matter.
If the retransmit fees can not be done away with, then, Alacarte Cable would eliminate the problems of networks fighting over fees with cable providers.
Alacarte cable puts the consumer in control and makes the network have to ask the consumer to pay more for the channel in these fee fights. In fact, the channel is less likely to ask for an increase because it is much more transparent and they don't want to look bad in the eyes of their viewership.
Alacarte cable would also likely have an effect of reducing or eliminating the retransmit fees, as channels drop/lower them to attract more viewers. If a channel doesn't drop or lower their fee, then the consumer can choose to pay it or drop the channel.
Once the consumer can pick and choose which channels they want, the cable provider is just a utility, acting as a middle man for the networks. The consumer has the power and the channels have to compete.
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