Lawmakers weigh TV fees bill, some call television market broken
The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee scolded television cable providers and broadcasters Wednesday for getting mired in fee disputes that he says have harmed consumers.
Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said the failure to control the disputes was a symptom of broader problems in the TV market. There is a "race to the bottom" among news services that offer polarizing views, he said. He also criticized cable and satellite firms that bundle hundreds of channels to sell to consumers at ever rising prices.
"We need slimmed-down channel packages that better respect what we really want to watch," Rockefeller said. "And we need to find ways to provide greater value for television viewers at a lower cost, because people are tired of always escalating rates."
He said cable and satellite prices have risen at a pace three times that of inflation in recent years.
The comments came in a hearing on retransmission consent negotiations between broadcasters and cable/satellite firms. The fee disputes involved in some of those negotiations have led to television blackouts, such as Fox's signal blackout to Cablevision viewers for two weeks in October.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has issued a draft bill that would restructure retransmission consent laws. The legislation would enable the FCC to determine if negotiations are done in good faith before allowing broadcasters to pull signals.
"Our constituents should not be pawns," Kerry said in the hearing.
Cable service providers such as Cablevision and Time Warner Cable support the bill. But analysts say broadcasters have a strong position in negotiations, as they are able to pull signals, and have been pushing for higher fees.
| November 17, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories: Comcast, Consumers, FCC, cable
Save & Share: Previous: U.K. says no need for net neutrality rules
Next: update: Senate anti-piracy bill provokes battle between Hollywood and Web giants
Posted by: cabby29 | November 18, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | November 18, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: rozell99 | November 18, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sdcelli | November 18, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: LieToMe | November 18, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Hattrik | November 18, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse