Comcast 'proxy' method could be retrans salve

The "proxy" retransmission consent fees approach Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is taking with its NBCUniversal affiliates could be a boilerplate to alleviate the ongoing pain being experienced by service providers and programmers and even by broadcasters and their affiliates, Executive Vice President David Cohen said.

"We think the model that we are trying to work through with our affiliates could be part of the solution. It certainly is for our company and for the pay TV providers who are doing business with us," Cohen said.

Comcast, Cohen admitted, plays on both sides of the retrans fence. As a service provider Comcast "probably will pay more retrans than anyone else" and as a programmer it will reap the benefits of retrans consent fees.

The FCC has been leery about getting into the retrans issue, claiming its powers are limited. Meanwhile, the problem is getting worse, said the American Television Alliance (ATVA), which said that there have been five retrans dispute blackouts already this year.

"It took until October of 2010 to hit five blackouts, the most in a decade," the organization said in a news release. "These broadcasters' bullying tactics will continue until Congress and the FCC fix the broken retransmission consent system and protect consumers."

For more:
- Broadcasting & Cable has this story
- and this news release

Special Report: Retransmission consent fees: Broadcasters want more from everyone

Related Articles:
FCC lays out rules for retransmission consent overhaul
Consumer group: retransmission fees four times higher than inflation
Retrans news: NBC, affiliates work out deal as Full Channel, Univision settle

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