News

FCC Pushes for Retrans Peace

10/18/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Without
naming any names, Federal
Communications Commission
chairman Julius Genachowski
said last week that his agency
continued to talk with the parties
involved in ongoing retransmission-
consent negotiations —
a group that would prominently
include Fox Networks and Cablevision
Systems — and that
he was hoping all sides would
come to an agreement.

“We will work with the different
parties to try and encourage
deals being done in a timely
way,” he said.

The deadline in the Fox-Cablevision
talks was Oct. 15 (story,
this page).

The chairman, responding to
a question at a press conference
following the FCC’s monthly
public meeting, said he continued
to be concerned about the
impact on consumers of those
impasses and that the FCC continued
to “push for greater information
and notice” of potential
programming disruptions.

Asked to elaborate, he pointed
to the retransmission-consent
impasses at the end of last
year. He said one of the challenges
was the possibility that
signals might be pulled on a Friday
of the New Year’s weekend
before some “compelling” programming
aired (college bowl
games in particular).

Sinclair Broadcast Group
and Mediacom Communications
eventually reached a deal
without any programming disruptions
that could have meant
some football fans missing
bowl games involving their local
college-football teams. But
Genachowski is concerned that
viewers aren’t getting suffi cient
information about the possibilities
of losing programming and
what their options are.

He also said he thought that
all the parties involved “understand
that there are real risks
of not reaching a deal.” One
of those risks is congressional
pressure on the FCC to step in.

The commission earlier this
year solicited comment on
changes to the retransmissionconsent
regime proposed in a
petition for rulemaking by cable
companies, satellite operators
and others, but has not taken
any action on the request.

March