WTA Joins Rural Associations Calling for Video Buying Group Protections

On October 17, WTA joined several rural associations urging Congress to provide video buying groups used by smaller providers access to the same good faith protections afforded to large providers when it renews expiring satellite television legislation this year. In a letter, the associations highlight the efficiencies achieved through the use of buying groups, such as the the National Cable Television Cooperative (“NCTC”). For example, national programmers reduce the transaction costs of dealing individually with small and medium-sized providers so that they are comparable to the transaction costs of dealing with a single large provider and members of buying groups receive significantly lower rates than they would if they negotiated by themselves. However, since groups like NCTC do not meet the FCC’s definition of a “buying group,” they are excluded from “good faith” protections under program access rules. As a result, many large broadcast groups choose not to deal with small provider buying groups, leading to higher prices and often the exit of small and medium-sized providers from the video marketplace. The associations urge Congress to adopt similar language to what was crafted by Reps. Eshoo and Scalise in their Modern Television Act, which would allow buying groups like NCTC to qualify for “good faith” negotiation requirements under the FCC’s rules and finally level the playing field.