Retransmission Consent Fees have become the bully at the front line affecting cable providers all around the country. Rural and urban alike, no company is exempt from the weight of this overwhelming expense. You may have noticed talk in the news and Online about the effects this weight is having on local companies such as Cox, Century Link, and American Broadband.

Great Plains Communications feels education is key in providing you with an explanation of what retransmission consent fees are and what they mean for the future of cable television.

For starters, the fees are defined as money that cable providers are required to pay local TV stations (affiliates) for the right to retransmit their signal to customers. These local affiliates are the channels that broadcast network programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX over the public airwaves for free.

Recent years have shown a rapid increase in retransmission fees, due to local affiliates having lost ultimate control to buyouts by larger media conglomerates. These buyouts transfer the power to negotiate these fees out of the local level, which also eliminates existing partnership relationships between local TV stations and cable providers.

While the process is nothing new, the increases demanded by stations throughout the nation have climbed to new highs, reaching over 300% in some cases. If the broadcaster’s demands are not met, they can block their signal-taking local channels away from consumers’ channel lineups.

How can this happen? Because outdated laws need to be revised. Since 1992, the federal government has given television broadcasters the right to grant or deny cable operators the use of their signal, in addition to exclusivity in the market. As a result, broadcasters have unrestrained leverage in negotiations with cable operators over the price of retransmission. These negotiations are typically conducted every three years.

For more information on retransmission consent fees, and to find out what this means for our Great Plains Communications customers, visit

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