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 Cable, Satellite and telephone companies to send the signal to their customers.

A Cable Network negotiates with TV providers, such as RCN, to carry their Networks for a variety of demands, such as a fee per subscriber per month or guaranteeing a minimum number of subscribers. In recent years, a new trend has developed where broadcasters are demanding unprecedented fee increases for the same programming you can get free online or over the air with an antenna.

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. These TV station owners may pull their channels as a negotiating tactic to improve their position to extract huge fee increases that eventually lead to increases in your bill.

Next Topic: Network TV Groups

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