American Conservative Union criticizes Sen. DeMint's TV bill

Retransmission consent was created to ensure that broadcasters are compensated by cable and satellite companies that charge subscriptions. 

Cable and satellite providers, however, complain that television stations abuse retransmission consent by threatening "blackouts" unless they are paid exorbitant fees that they say drive up bills for consumers.

The ACU claims there is "no epidemic" of blackouts because 99 percent of retransmission disputes are settled before that point. Ending retransmission consent would "distort the marketplace … and is certainly not deregulation.”

But a spokesman for the American Cable Association, which represents many smaller cable operators, said there have been “significant changes” in the marketplace in the 20 years since Congress established retransmission fees.

"It’s just plain common sense for Congress to look at the rules again after all this time to determine whether they are still working as intended," the spokesman said.

DeMint's office did not immideately respond to request for comment. 

— This story was updated at 5:33 p.m.