Small Cable Ops Say Market's Broken Due to Media Consolidation
So Hey, Let's Eliminate Media Consolidation Rules!
Small cable operators this week met up at the American Cable Association Summit to complain that the TV market is rigged and broken thanks to media consolidation. Speaking at the event, executives like Wide Open West CEO Colleen Abdoulah complained that content prices were skyrocketing due to collusion. That collusion is specifically at play in the higher rates being charged for retransmission fees, the fight over which have resulted in consistent content blackouts for consumers
and higher rates for users -- irregardless of which side "wins" the rate negotiation.
Cable operators at the show often blamed the broken TV market on increased media consolidation
, leading to anti-competitive behavior from content gatekeepers:
It’s an issue of media ownership. Because ownership has consolidated over the years, media companies have been able to bundle popular content with shows operators might otherwise not buy and charge for both. In theory the media companies are supposed to negotiate in good faith with operators to make content available, but as I overheard one person say in a hallway at the summit, there is no good, there is no faith, and there is no negotiation.
Most ACA attendees of course cheer for deregulation, never quite connecting the fact that most obnoxious predatory behavior is either courtesy of deregulation, or bad regulation passed by those wealthy enough and large enough to buy it. Some of the small cable operators who ceaselessly preach deregulation now want the FCC to step in and regulate retransmission rates. Others, like show attendee and new FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
, think the way to stop the issues caused by media consolidation is to weaken media consolidation rules further
From the schizophrenic philosophies espoused at summit, things won't be getting better for small cable operators anytime soon.