Britt, Carey Expected to Be Among Retrans Hearing Headliners

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According to a source with access to the tentative witness list for the just-announced retransmission-consent hearing in the Senate Communications Subcommittee, it should include a lot of the expected heavy hitters.

According to the list, the invited witnesses for the Nov. 17 hearing are News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey; Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt (the MSO has pushed hard and prominently for retrans reform); Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge; Univision CEO Joe Uva (representing broadcasters), and Ovation CEO Charles Segars (representing independent networks).

The hearing was prompted at least in part by the high-profile retrans impasse between Fox and Cablevision.

A think tank representative could be a possible add-on, according to the source. A Federal Communications Commission source said commission chairman Julius Genachowski is not expected to testify. He has a prior speaking engagement in San Francisco. Genachowski has publicly backed Subcommittee chairman John Kerry's proposal to review the retrans rules. His draft bill is expected to be part of the hearing conversation, though the hearing is informational. There had also been talk early on that FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake could be invited, but he was not on the tentative list.

Broadcasters do not want the government to step into the retrans issue, arguing it is a marketplace negotiation that is working. Cable and satellite operators argue that the system is broken, that the government already has a thumb on the scale in favor of broadcasters--must-carry requirements--and that the FCC needs to fix the system.