Mediacom petitions FCC for retrans blackout reform [telecom]

By Ben Munson, Editor, CED, 07/07/2015

Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso wants the FCC to do something about rising retransmission fees and the blackouts local broadcasters use to keep the costs going up.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commisso lamented the Commission's inaction as retransmission fees inflate, including another $3 billion per year increase during Wheeler's tenure as chairman.

"PayTV costs are significantly higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world largely because the average monthly wholesale programming costs paid by most MVPDs have grown to over $45 per subscriber. To put these wholesale programming costs in their proper perspective, $45 is roughly the monthly retail price ISPs charge for their flagship broadband product," Commisso wrote.

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Assuming of course that the FCC has legal authority to do anything about retrans fees. As the FCC notes in its webpage "Cable Carriage of Broadcast Stations":

Q: What can the FCC do if a broadcaster and a cable operator fail to reach a retransmission consent agreement?

A: Generally, the FCC is not authorized to participate in discussions between television stations and cable systems regarding retransmission consent agreements.

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Only Congress can do anything about retrans fees. Congress doesn't appear interested.

Neal McLain

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Neal McLain
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