Cablevision Proposes New Market-Based Approach to Reform Outdated Retransmission Laws, Reduce Blackouts and Take Consumers Out of the Middle

May 26, 2011, 10:07 ET from Cablevision Systems Corporation

BETHPAGE, N.Y., May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Cablevision Systems Corp., (NYSE: CVC) today filed a proposal in the Federal Communications Commission's proceeding on retransmission consent reform to protect consumers from programming blackouts by implementing three simple reforms in the retransmission consent process.  The proposal came in comments submitted in response to the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on retransmission consent:

"We are pleased the FCC has initiated this important proceeding, and have proposed three simple market-based reforms to the good faith negotiations rules that will protect consumers from the threat of broadcaster blackouts," said Tom Rutledge, Cablevision's chief operating officer.  "As the FCC and Congress know, consumers are the ones who are harmed when broadcasters pull or threaten to pull their networks from cable systems."

Implementing Cablevision's proposal clearly falls within the FCC's authority to reform the good faith negotiations rules and would protect consumers by avoiding blackouts of "must see" programming delivered over spectrum granted by the government for use in the public interest.

The three key reforms proposed in Cablevision's filing to the FCC today are:

Forbid tying – end the practice of requiring the carriage of unrelated cable channels, owned by broadcasters, in order to also carry their broadcast networks.  This practice has allowed broadcasters, who enjoy free spectrum and other advantages, to raise consumer costs by forcing carriage of their channels of limited interest in exchange for access to major broadcast networks and "must see" programming.

Require transparency – end the practice of allowing broadcasters to keep their prices for carrying broadcast stations secret.  Retransmission fees should be public.

Forbid discrimination – allow broadcasters to continue to set the price of carriage, but do not allow them to discriminate among cable and satellite providers based on size or other factors.

“The days of secret pricing that, among other things, requires consumers to pay for additional cable channels before they can receive a broadcast channel should come to an end,” Mr. Rutledge added. “Broadcasters should not be able to keep the prices they charge hidden or to discriminate between distributors in a given market. Our simple reforms would end these practices, and we urge the FCC to consider this consumer friendly approach.”

Cablevision also released its full filing to the FCC.

About Cablevision

Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC) is one of the nation's leading media and entertainment companies.  Its assets include cable television operations that provide industry-leading services to more than 3 million New York area households.  A state-of-the-art cable system enables the company to offer a full suite of premier residential and business communications services that include its iO TV® digital television, Optimum Online® high-speed Internet, Optimum Voice® digital voice, Optimum WiFi® wireless Internet, and its Optimum Lightpath® integrated business communications solutions.  Cablevision also delivers advanced video, voice and Internet services to more than 300,000 households in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.  Through Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, Cablevision operates several successful programming and entertainment businesses, including AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE tv and IFC Entertainment.  Cablevision serves the New York area with compelling local content through News 12 Networks, a local news leader; MSG Varsity, a suite of television and online services covering high school activities; and, Newsday Media Group, a business unit that includes Newsday, Long Island's leading daily newspaper.  The company also owns and operates Clearview Cinemas, which includes Manhattan's famed Ziegfeld Theatre, a frequent and historic venue for film premieres and events.

SOURCE Cablevision Systems Corporation