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Broadcast Networks HaveThe Numbers

Broadcast TV from the Networks (ABC, CBS NBS and Fox) content is still by far the most in demand. Broadcast program ratings are significantly higher than programming offered by pay TV channels. In fact, during the 2009-10 television season, broadcast programming dominated the primetime program rankings, accounting for 98 of the top 100 programs


In 1992, Congress established a process to provide local television stations the opportunity to negotiate with and seek compensation from pay-television providers (such as cable and satellite) for retransmission of stations' valuable signals to subscribers.

Broadcast or Network TV content is still by far the most in demand. Under the current system, broadcasters and pay-TV providers must work together to reach mutually beneficial agreements.

This process, known as retransmission consent, is critical to local TV stations' ability to provide local news, community and emergency information, as well as top-quality entertainment programming for viewers. For years, profit-driven pay-TV companies have attracted subscribers using broadcast programming. Recently, some have been urging legislators and regulators to change the system, simply because they don't want to compensate broadcasters for their signals.

When enacting the 1992 Cable Act, Congress created a process to allow broadcasters to negotiate for fair compensation in return for cable operators' use of stations' signals – the retransmission consent process. Congress stressed that it did not intend to dictate the outcome of the marketplace negotiations between broadcasters and cable operators; the process simply provides stations with the opportunity to negotiate.

In recent years, the FCC reviewed the retransmission consent process and recommended no changes in a report to Congress. The FCC found that retransmission consent has benefited broadcasters, cable and satellite operators and, most importantly, viewers.

Over the years, many thousands of retransmission consent agreements have been successfully negotiated between local television stations and cable and satellite companies, nearly all without any disruption in service. Simply put, the process is working as Congress intended. Turning back the clock will do more to restrict viewers' choice than enhance it.

Viewers, local broadcast stations and pay-TV operators all benefit from the retransmission consent process. These negotiations are fair and market-driven, and there is no need to change the process that Congress established and has worked well for nearly two decades.




WASHINGTON -- In response to Verizon's announcement today that it would sell its 700 MHz A and B spectrum licenses contingent on government approval of its pending purchase of spectrum from SpectrumCo, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued the following statement:

"Today’s proposal by Verizon to sell reallocated broadcast TV spectrum involves airwaves in the largest urban markets in America that it purchased more than four years ago. The fact that it has warehoused this ‘beachfront property’ raises the fundamental question of whether a spectrum shortage actually exists. Rather than simply take at face value the specious claims of wireless broadband providers, policymakers should heed the words of Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cellphone, who disputes the notion of a spectrum crisis."