Senate Democrats Want FCC to Mediate Verizon-Univision Impasse

Say they recognize it's a private negotiation, but consumers are being hurt

Senate Democrats have called on Univision and Verizon (with an assist from the FCC) to settle their retransmission-consent impasse, which has kept Univision nets off Verizon's FiOS pay TV and mobile wireless platforms since Oct. 16.

In a letter to Verizon Lowell McAdam, Univision CEO Randy Falco and FCC chair Ajit Pai, the senators expressed their concern with the ongoing dispute, pointing to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the importance of Spanish-language news.

Signing on to the letter were Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Ben Cardin (Md.).

Related: Verizon Gives FCC Its Side of Univision Impasse

They said they were not weighing in on who was right or wrong in the dispute, saying they recognized the negotiations are "contractual discussions between private parties,." But they asked the FCC to bring those parties together -- there is precedent for that -- so the negotiations can conclude and the impasse be resolved.

The senators said consumers were being unfairly disadvantaged.

An FCC spokesperson was not available for comment, but both sides have given the FCC their side of the story. The FCC, under both Republican and Democratic chairs, is historically reluctant to get involved in retrans disputes, though the FCC often monitors and is in contact with parties in protracted, high-profile impasses, particularly ones that draw Hill attention.

The FCC would not confirm earlier in the impasse whether Pai had reached out to the parties.