"Granted it's no skin off of cable operators' teeth since all of those costs are passed directly on to you, increasingly in the form of below the line fees on top of the usual rate increases (also blamed on programming cost increases)."
Well that's a little over simplified. If the cable companies felt that it was nothing but a pass though cost issue then why were they trying to fight it. These retrans battles have left the cable companies bruised and always on the losing side. They have learned that they either pay retrans fees or lose customers... a lose lose for them.
A better reality is that they are becoming more aware that there is a limit to how much people will pay for television. They see the cord cutters adding up as they are driven away by higher costs, a very slow recovering economy, and developing home entertainment alternatives. Together these problems are developing a synergy that is worrisome to the cable companies.
That also begins to explain why the cable companies are separating the cost of retrans in the billing. Yes it does keep the advertised price down but another reason is to educate their customers that the price of cable has more than one driving factor.
Because the cable company can still raise your rates, and keep the money instead of giving it to the broadcasters. Does a new $1.50 a month per subscriber retrans fee cover their costs? Or would $.50 per month do it, and the extra $1 is pure profit for doing nothing? No one knows, because they won't tell you the truth. -- +++ATH0
On the other hand how do you know that the supposed $1.50 isn't exactly the cost of new retrans fees? And who is actually lying... the cable co's or the broadcasters? What is the rate of return vs actual expenditures and is the profit margin today better than last year or ten years ago?
Costs go up. I pay more for almost everything.
As I said "It ain't that simple" and simple solutions to complex problems almost never apply when it comes time to implement.
Do you have any evidence that the cost breakout for retrans fees is less than what they say it is?
No one will truly know what their cost structure is when it comes to these fees. Does it cost them $1 per month more now than it did last year to rent out cable modems? Does it cost $1.50 per month more now to "administer" the "plan"? Does it cost $2 per month to comply with FCC regulations? Multiply that by X million users and see big buckets of money flowing in for doing very little. The "because we can, and you'll pay it" fees are almost everywhere on everything, and brings in lots of free money. -- +++ATH0