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What Is the Difference Between a Broadcaster and a Cable Network?

A Broadcaster, such as ABC and NBC, airs their stations via public airways free over-the-air to households with antennas. They also negotiate with Satellite, Cable and telephone companies to send the signal to their customers.

A Cable Network negotiates with TV providers to carry their Networks for a variety of demands, such as a fee per subscriber per month or guaranteeing a minimum number of subscribers.

 
What Is Retransmission Consent?

It is a provision of the 1992 Cable Act passed by Congress. This Act requires TV providers to offer every local Broadcast station to their customers by obtaining permission, or "Retransmission Consent," from each of the stations.

  • The law also states that we cannot pick and choose which stations to offer, nor can we decide to not provide a local Broadcast station.
  • Because PBS is funded by public and private support, they are not allowed to collect retransmission consent fees.
  • When TV stations don’t get TV providers to meet their demands for increased retrans fees, they threaten viewers with blackouts to get them to complain to their TV provider, leaving you without your favorite programming indefinitely. And when those demands are met, it results in higher prices for you.
  • Click here to learn more about blackouts and why stations create public disputes with TV providers.

To learn more about retransmission consent, check out this video.

 
Retransmission Fees Are Expected To Increase Dramatically

Station owners and Broadcast Networks are expected to continue to increase the amount they demand in retrans fees: 1

  • In 2006, retrans fees were only 6¢ of the average cable customer’s bill per month.
  • By 2020, this is expected to soar to $7.40 per month

In addition to retrans fees, Broadcast stations generate billions in advertising revenue. That figure is declining, which is why TV stations are trying to get TV providers and their viewers to pay more.

 
How Local TV Providers Support Local TV Stations

TV stations that broadcast use the public's airwaves, which they get at NO cost through the Federal government as a gift from tax payers like you. Including TV stations on the cable channel lineup makes up for the generally poor reception a digital antenna alone provides, and in so doing expands the station’s reach to more households, thereby increasing the Broadcaster’s advertising revenue.

If you'd like to let your congressman know that you think retransmission fees are unfair, click here.

1 SNL Kagan