Senate Republicans plug 'Local Choice' alternative to retransmission consent

Senate Republicans are backing a proposal made by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.) that would dispense with retransmission consent payments and let pay-TV subscribers individually choose which broadcast channels they want and pay the broadcaster directly for access.

On Monday, Commerce Committee Republicans tweeted a link to a YouTube video explaining the so-called "Local Choice" proposal, which they'd like to include in the Senate's version of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act (STELA), which will be brought to the floor this fall.

You can see the video here or view it below.

If enacted, Local Choice would broadcasters set prices for station access in individual markets, with subscriber payments going directly to them. Pay-TV operators would be required to show "the savings" to their customers on their bills, revealing what they were paying under retrans and what they'd now be paying just for basic cable channels under Local Choice.

"Viewers are often left in the dark about how much they are paying in retrans fees. And when retrans negotiations break down, blackouts often occur … It's time for a new idea," the video's narrator says, touting that Local Choice will render "No blackouts, no markups, no hidden costs."

Broadcasters, which are enjoying progressive increases in retransmission fees, are understandably unhappy with the plan.

"NAB has always supported a clean reauthorization of STELA and we do not believe this bill is an appropriate vehicle for reviewing the retransmission consent process," read a statement released by the National Association of Broadcasters two weeks ago.

Republican Commerce committee members' video explaining their Local Choice idea. (Source: YouTube)

For more:
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:
House passes STELA, boosts pay TV retrans leverage, ends CableCard requirement
Senators push for pay TV retransmission reform; broadcasters push back
ACA, ATVA ramp up retrans battle with TV commercial