But it doesn’t need to continue. Community groups including the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators have urged the Federal Communications Commission, which has sweeping authority to regulate broadcasting in the public interest, to reform the retransmission consent rules. No one disagrees that the negotiation process should remain between the companies involved, but consumers should not be caught in the middle. Broadcasters argue that providing viewers with more notice of an impending blackout is sufficient. But this approach does nothing to solve the problem of threatened and actual blackouts. In fact, it ensures that consumers will be used as pawns in the negotiation process.
For the Spanish speaking community in particular, this problem should not be taken lightly. It could mean the loss of Spanish language news, the only information access point for many Latino households. Or it could mean just the time and effort to consider switching providers and making an appointment during work hours or limited family time to actually switch. Those are big burdens to put on our community.
The fact is the current retransmission consent rules no longer make sense. Without reform, blackouts will continue to occur, prices will keep going up, and consumers will continue to be inconvenienced as a result of these contentious negotiations. The American consumer deserves better.
State Representative Mara Candelaria-Reardon represents the state of Indiana’s House District 12. She is also a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, the preeminent organization serving and representing the interests of Hispanic state legislators nationwide.