Owners of Regional TV Stations Seek Large Fee Increases

The owners of Quad Cities‘ broadcast TV stations carrying ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and others are seeking increases of up to 200% in the fees they charge cable and satellite providers to carry their programming. MPW DigitalTV is currently attempting to negotiate reasonable agreements with these broadcasters.

“Negotiating new retransmission consent agreements is business as usual for all cable and satellite service providers every few years,” said Erika Cox, MP&W Director of Employee and Community Relations, “but these station owners have set their asking price artificially high.”

Viewers may begin seeing messages on these stations blaming the cable and satellite companies, including MPWDigitalTV, for the stalemate. “We have a history of successfully negotiating agreements with station owners in the Quad Cities, but because of industry
consolidation, we are now negotiating with predominantly large, national, multi-station operators from outside the area, and we have seen little movement from their high opening proposals” explained Cox.

Across the nation, broadcasters have been demanding dramatic fee increases particularly from small, independent cable TV operators, while threatening to withdraw their signals if their unreasonable terms were not met. MP&W‘s position is that increases like this are unfair to the consumer, especially when you consider the fact that broadcasters are provided radio spectrum to operate from the Federal Government free of charge.

“In our view, the broadcasters have chosen to use the ‗blackmail or blackout‘ strategy to pressure local providers into accepting their terms — pay it, or we‘ll cut you off,” said Cox. “We represent our customer-owners and we will continue to negotiate in good faith for fees that represent a fair value for our market since these costs ultimately are passed on to you.”

MP&W believes the current laws and regulations governing the cable industry are outdated, biased towards broadcasters, prohibit competition and are harmful to the consumer, and urge customers to stay informed. If you feel strongly about the rising costs of your bill for TV programming, contact your elected representatives in Washington, D.C.

“Our customers want and deserve access to the Quad Cities‘ stations,” Cox continued, “and we look forward to working with them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. However, we simply refuse to allow our customers to be extorted – especially when cable customers in more urban markets do not experience the price increases that smaller markets like ours do.”

The current programming agreements are set to expire December 31, 2014. In the past, these stations and MPW DigitalTV have always reached agreements to carry their programming. These regional/local agreements have typically been reached without a disruption in service for MP&W customers.

Many agreements are reached in the final hours of the negotiating process. While MP&W hopes to successfully complete the new agreements and avoid any disruption in programming, subscribers are reminded that MP&W cannot control actions the stations may choose to take, including temporary blackouts if agreement is not reached by December 31 or a request for extension is not granted.

Consumers may learn more about retransmission issues at the TV on My Side website (


Since 1992, the federal government has given television broadcasters the right to grant or deny cable operators use of their signal, in addition to exclusivity in the market. 

As a result, broadcasters have unrestrained leverage in negotiations with cable operators, particularly those who are small and medium-sized, over the price of retransmission. 

These negotiations are typically conducted every three years. To change this unfair law, Congress needs to take action.

December 18, 2014
Muscatine Power and Water
3205 Cedar Street
P.O. Box 899
Muscatine, IA 52761
Contact: Erika Cox
Phone: 563-262-3305
FAX: 563-262-3315