08.17.2010 12:05 PM
NAB Launches Its Own Retrans Web Site

WASHINGTON: The National Association of Broadcasters launched a new Web site today in response to another created by pay TV operators calling for retransmission consent reform. The NAB’s, KeepMyTV.org targets consumers, much the same as the site recently launched by the American Television Alliance.

The NAB said its new site is “aimed at educating and empowering viewers during carriage negotiations between broadcast TV stations and pay-TV providers.”

The site itself asks in headline-sized type, “What if your pay TV company no longer carried your favorite broadcast channels?” It notes that “98.5 percent of the highest-rated shows are on broadcast TV.”

The ATVA in turn blames broadcasters for pulling local signals. The coalition behind the ATVA--including AT&T, Time Warner CAble, Verizon and a host of smaller carriers and content networks--are petitioning regulators and lawmakers to change retransmission consent rules. Specifically, they want continued access to local broadcast signals after retransmission contracts for them end, and while new contracts are being hammered out.

Those negotiations are often contentious, and there have been a few instances of brief signal black-outs. Most of the time, however, threatened black-outs are an unrealized negotiating tactic. That hasn’t stopped some lawmakers from calling for reform. The histrionics are sure to gain volume as the carriage agreement between Time Warner Cable and Disney approaches expiration. Their current agreement expires Sept. 2.

The NAB’s Web site includes instructions for buying an antenna to receive over-the-air any station that might be pulled from a pay TV system.

-- Deborah D. McAdams

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