Retrans reform: Tax reformers oppose, indie net seeks help

The need for government oversight of retransmission negotiations between cable operators and program networks is truly in the eyes of the beholders.

Taxpayer groups seek less government intervention in everything so they're opposed to the idea of "legislation that would insert the government even further into private retransmission negotiations," according to a letter from Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, in a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) agreed, noting that a "slew of poorly-designed rules" are responsible for retransmission brouhahas and that the government should look at untangling that mess and not get involved in further regulation. "The rules government retransmission consent were designed to shield content provides from a cable monopoly that no longer exists, and now those providers are exploiting that protection to the fullest," NTU Government Affairs Director Andrew Moylan told the committee.

On the other side, independent cable network executive Charlie Segars, chairman of Ovation, wants any kind of oversight to take small networks such as his into consideration before they become collateral damage in the battle between big programming groups and cable operators.

"Independent networks, with no service bundling advantage through retransmission, and little leverage, despite delivering under-served categories like the arts, will be targeted" as part of any cost-cutting operators have to do to meet the demands of bigger programming groups, he concluded in testimony before the Senate Communications subcommittee hearing.

For more:
- see this story
- and this news release
- and this story

Related articles:
Retrans fight pushes cable closer to a la carte
America's new pastime: messing with programming access

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