While cable network tying and a dual carriage exemption got play at ACA‘s Summit Wed, there was no mistaking the main thrust of the conference: retransmission consent. Members repeatedly expressed concern about the upcoming retrans election cycle for broadcasters, which they said could mean 300-500% increases in the amount they pay for retrans. “It’s going to leave bodies in the streets, but often that’s what makes Washington [act],” Sunflower Broadband COO and ACA chmn Patrick Knorr said Tues. He compared retrans to the coal mining industry, saying Congress didn’t step in with safety regs until lives were lost. In this case, those “bodies” could be the businesses of some ACA members and consumers’ pocketbooks, Knorr said. A few years ago, the argument was over whether cable ops should pay at all for the signals, but that has shifted. The message that ACA members will spread to the 150+ members of Congress they visit this week is that there is price discrimination, with smaller operators sometimes paying 10 times as much or more than what their larger counterparts pay for retrans consent, according to ACA outside lawyer Chris Cinnamon. ACA members will work this week to “educate Congress that this [FCC] rulemaking on tying and bundling is moving and will have a positive impact on their constituents,” said ACA CEO Matt Polka. For its part, broadcasters ran ads in DC Hill pubs this week saying retrans is fine as-is and calling cable operators monopolists.

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