We recently shared information about our negotiations with local TV stations who are asking for substantial increases in the fees we pay to air their signals. When the cost of providing a service increases by such a significant amount, it will inevitably affect the price for the end consumer. So, we want to talk about what consumers can do to help keep their costs down.
Since 1992, the federal government has given television broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc.) the right to grant or deny cable operators (like Great Plains Communications) use of their signal, in addition to exclusivity in their markets. This means that the local stations have an enormous amount of leverage in negotiations with cable operators, especially those who serve smaller markets like we do. This unfair advantage is one of the reasons why even in an economic downturn these companies are asking for huge rate increases. If cable companies decide that the rates are too high, then the local station simply shuts down the signal and denies customers access to the channel.
We understand that a lot of the best programming is still on broadcast channels and are working hard to negotiate a reasonable rate. Consumers can help create a more equitable negotiation system by contacting their congressional representatives and members of the FCC.
If you would like to contact Nebraska representatives, we have some resources available for you:
Click here for a template of a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing that the current laws create an unfair advantage for national broadcasters when negotiating with your local cable company.