About Programming

The Broadcaster's Bargain

Since the earliest days of television, broadcast stations – NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox – have been granted free use of the public airwaves by the Federal government. That’s a public subsidy worth billions of dollars. In exchange, the only obligation broadcasters must meet is to "serve the public interest." More than 60 years later, the public subsidy continues, but the public interest side of the bargain is too often ignored.

Because of an old TV law called “retransmission consent,” cable companies like WOW! are required to obtain consent from these local broadcast stations in order to carry them, and these broadcasters demand steep fees in exchange for that consent. Because of these outdated regulations that give TV stations a local monopoly, broadcasters often threaten to black out their signals, even though their programming remains available for free over-the-air with an antenna.

When the blackouts do finally end, consumers get their programming back but at a much higher cost

For more information on how retransmission consent contributes to rising monthly cable bills, visit: http://www.americancable.org/issues/tv-ransom/.