Affiliate Chiefs Brand STAVRA Retrans Provisions 'Patently Unfair'

Big Four Board Chairs Say Senate Satellite Bill is Discriminatory and Anti-Competitive

In a letter to Commerce chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and ranking member John Thune (R-S.D.) on behalf of their 600-plus TV station members, the heads of the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliate boards said they appreciated the news this week that the "Local Choice" retrans remake proposal had been pulled from the bill, but said there were still "highly controversial provisions" in STAVRA that would undermine access to free TV.

Those include barring joint retransmission consent negotiations by independently owned TV stations, and not just in the same market; not allowing retrans agreements to limit the ability of cable or satellite ops to carry significantly viewed out-of-market stations; in the case of retrans blackouts, allowing the FCC to seek info from MVPDs and broadcasters about whether they committed per se violations of good faith negotiations; and directing the FCC to conduct a rulemaking on whether certain practices, like blocking online video content, are a per se violation of good faith and how best to update the "totality of circumstances test" to encourage both broadcasters and MVPDs to reach a retrans agreement.

Read more here.