What is Retransmission Consent?

Oct 01, 2023

Retransmission consent is a legal framework in the United States that governs the relationship between television broadcasters and cable or satellite television providers (multichannel video programming distributors or MVPDs). It was established under the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992.

Retransmission consent essentially allows television broadcasters to negotiate with cable and satellite providers for permission to carry their broadcast signals. Here's how it generally works:

Negotiation: Television broadcasters negotiate with cable and satellite providers to determine whether the provider can carry their channels and what compensation, if any, will be provided in exchange.

Consent or Retransmission Fee: The negotiations may result in a mutual agreement where the cable or satellite provider pays a retransmission fee to the broadcaster for the right to carry their channel. In some cases, broadcasters may choose to provide consent for free.

Carriage or Blackout: If no agreement is reached, the broadcaster may choose to allow the cable or satellite provider to carry their signal (consent) or, in some cases, they may opt for a blackout, which means the provider cannot carry their signal until an agreement is reached.

The goal of retransmission consent is to give broadcasters a say in how their content is distributed and to provide a potential source of revenue from cable and satellite providers. However, disputes over retransmission consent fees can sometimes lead to channel blackouts for consumers if negotiations break down.