Monday, November 12, 2012

Retrans Fees News

Hot on the heels of an SNL Kagan report projecting a bog hike in future revenues from Retransmission Consent fees, comes a report that U.S. broadcasters will seek retransmission payments from Canadian cable, satellite, and Internet TV providers that include their signals.

  The SNL Kagan report projects that revenues from U.S. retransmission consent fees will total $2.36 billion in 2012, or about $1 per MVPDS  subscriber (multichannel video programming delivery service - includes cable, satellite, telco-TV).  They also significantly raised their retrans revenue estimate for 2018 - $6.05 billion, or $4.86 per subscriber in aggregate.  There's two ways to look at this - that it would be only 10% of what cable operators pay for all carried programming, and that all broadcaster-based fees combined will be still be less than what ESPN earns just for its primary channel; alternatively, you can think of this as saying viewers will be paying nearly $5 per month to access "free TV" through cable or other MVPDS services.

  The money's good enough to get border-area stations to to seek payments from Canadian MVPDS services now, rather than waiting for a proposed WIPO Broadcasting Treaty that would explicitly give broadcasters the right to seek payment for carriage of their signals beyond national borders.  They argue that they should be treated the same as "distant" Canadian stations are under a new set of consent and compensation rights in Canada.  The new Canadian regulations can into effect in 2011 after Canadian authorities looked into "fee-for-service" video platforms.  The new regulations provide consent and remuneration rights to "distant" or out-of-market TV stations in Canada, that are similar to US retransmission consent rights in the U.S.
“Our channels deliver value for Canadians,” said Chris Musial, General Manager for WIVB and WNLO-TV in Buffalo, New York. “We expect the right to negotiate appropriate compensation for the full value that our signals and programming deliver to Canadian markets.”
While it may seem like a winner for these U.S. stations, it likely won't be long before non-US stations seek reciprocal rights from US MVPDS operators.  That could negatively impact carriage decisions and retrans payments in the U.S. as well as in Canada.
  Even with the additional revenues from Canada, it's likely that local stations won't be able to keep most of it.  As copyright holders for most of the broadcast content local stations transmit, networks are already grabbing significant chunks of retransmission consent revenues from stations.  Retrans consent payments are contributing to higher prices for syndicated programming.

As for TV viewers, remember that these carriage fees get passed on to subscribers; or result in denying them access to channels (if no deal is reached.

Sources  -  Kagan: Retrans to Top $6 Billion by 2018Broadcasting & Cable
US Broadcasters Seek Retransmission Fees, Broadcaster

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