Cable firms ask Congress to fix contentious disputes with broadcasters



Lawmakers in both the House and Senate weighed in to urge the stations to find an agreement. The dispute was resolved, but other providers are taking note. Time Warner Cable warned its subscribers in the New York area that it deals with such fights "every day."

Time Warner had a similar problem with FOX last fall when the network demanded a rate increase for programming during the college football playoffs.

"Not surprisingly, the broadcasters would prefer that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission stay on the sidelines and leave consumers helpless in the face of such brinkmanship tactics," the letter said. "But that argument...ignores the unique government benefits and privileges conferred on broadcasters that preclude the normal give and take of private contractual negotiations."

The companies who sent the letter say "the balance of power...has shifted" since the fee system was put in place in 1992, and broadcasting networks are abusing its leverage in the multi-channel market.

Interestingly, not all cable companies and other pay-TV providers signed on to the letter. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Comcast, Cox, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse did not sign the letter.