Cable Versus Broadcast: One Step Forward, One Step Back?

Cable TV operators -- now facing stuff competition from new digital platforms -- might find their job easier if a new Federal Communications Commission proposal goes through, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Not only would cable companies be free of regulatory pricing constraints, but cities, states and other localities would lose regulatory purview over basic programming packages. Additionally, providers might be free to jettison TV stations from the basic cable package.

This FCC proposal could mean a big change for broadcasters -- now growingly dependent on revenue gains from retransmission deals with cable TV providers.  Should these agreements become more flexible, cable TV providers might put broadcast TV stations on higher price tiers, like those expensive sports cable TV channels -- thus “cutting the audience for local programming,” writes Todd Shields on Bloomberg.



Why the proposed change? The FCC recognizes the major shifts in the TV and media business and wanted to ease up on regulation and oversight.

Some would say this proposal should have come earlier, when satellite and then telco providers provided competition to traditional cable TV providers. But now digital threatens to disrupt the business more.

The FCC proposal was made public after the announcement that major broadcasting-led media companies -- CBS Corp.’s CBS network; Walt Disney's ABC; Comcast Corp's NBC; and CBS/Time Warner’s  CW --  wanted to consolidate their marketing efforts for traditional TV delivery by joining up with the new Video Advertising Bureau, which was the former Cable Advertising Bureau. (Fox is not a member, but its parent 21st Century Fox, which owns cable networks, is).

So broadcasters and cablers seemingly want to work together on the one hand. But the other hand? Perhaps it’s back to the future.

Next story loading loading..