Pressure for Retrans Reform Builds

According to a press release from the American Television Alliance, the FCC approved the sale of the ABC affiliate in Topeka, Kansas, to Parkin Broadcasting Company. The problem is that two other major network stations in that market — NBC and Fox affiliates — are owned by a single company, New Vision Television. And New Vision has shared service agreements already in place with Parkin in two other markets: Youngstown, Ohio and Savannah, Georgia. This means that the two companies control three of the major networks in Topeka, and are in a position to put the five local cable companies over a barrel when it comes time to negotiate retransmission licenses. Under the current system, Topeka cable subscribers could lose all three networks in the event of a dispute.

This turn of events just adds to the growing pressure for change to the retransmission rules. Consumers are being held hostage, and the number of incidents of channel blackouts is growing.