Broadcasters: Cable should pay for TV signals

Americans develop an attitude when their rights to bear arms, religious faith and TV viewing are challenged, so cable operators and the FCC should tread lightly when moving to reform retransmission consent rules, Gordon Smith, chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters said during a keynote speech at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas.

"Americans don't like people interfering with their guns, their faith or their favorite TV show," said Smith. Retransmission rulemaking, now wending its way through the FCC, challenges the right to watch television-or at least for the broadcasters to be paid by cable operators for receiving and retransmitting over-the-air TV signals, Smith said.

Over-the-air TV, he said, is free to viewers, "not to multi-billion dollar corporations that sell subscriptions on the back of our content." The system of wringing dollars from those corporations works, despite recent public disputes and blackouts, he said.

"Only a sliver of the negotiations has led to a disruption of service. Some pay TV companies, however, want to pay nothing or only a pittance for local stations' signals-even though local content and network programming offered by broadcasters are the ones viewers watch most."

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