A War Where No One’s Winning

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[Commentary] Sifting through the rhetoric on both sides of the retransmission consent issue isn’t an easy task, but recently, it has seemed as if the tide and the tone are beginning to shift.

Retransmission negotiations are rarely cordial, but in the past there seemed to be a few lines that both sides informally agreed not to cross. Those lines are becoming increasingly blurred. In almost every case, it seems like each succeeding retransmission fight lowers the bar another inch. In the end, what comes of the continuous volley of insults and accusations from both sides? Pretty much nothing. Time Warner Cable, according to analysts, will probably end up paying $1.90 per month per subscriber for CBS, pretty close to the $2 fee the broadcaster was reportedly demanding. TWC did get a solid month to state its case for retransmission regulatory reform in the top media markets, but anyone who believes Congress — which has yet to deal with more pressing issues on the economy and international relations — will drop everything to address this problem is deluding themselves. Maybe what this industry needs to do is sit down in a dark room with broadcasters, away from the press and the bright lights and all the hoopla, and really discuss what needs to happen. Maybe it’s a la carte, as some distributors have suggested, or unbundling networks, or simply agreeing to accept a low double-digit rate increase, or something else no one has thought of yet.


A War Where No One’s Winning