Dingell Wants Some Action on Retrans


Washington — Cable operators have received support
for their push for action on the Federal Communications
Commission’s review of retransmission-consent
rules from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), traditionally a
friend of broadcasters.

Along with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Dingell
asked the FCC commissioners to complete their retransmission
consent review by year-end, which would be before
the next round of contracts expire on Dec. 31.

Dingell did not weigh in
on the substance of the issue,
beyond saying that
the FCC’s recognition of
its limited authority suggested
it could get the item
moved by the end-of-theyear
deadline. He did say
that “reasonable action by
the commission” would
“provide greater certainty
in the video marketplace
and ultimately benefit the
American consumer.

Emerson went beyond the date issue to hit on points
raised by the American Cable Association and others in
the American Television Alliance, which petitioned the
FCC to open the review of retransmission consent.

Emerson said she had heard from some of her state’s
smaller pay TV providers about the possibility of increased
signal losses due to impasses and consumer disaffection and dislocation.

She was all for new rules of the road for retrans.
“With more than 1,000 carriage deals set to expire by
the end of this year, it is essential that the commission
have new rules in place to help avoid the types
of carriage disruptions for consumers that we’ve seen
increasingly occur,” she said.

Public comments on the FCC’s retransmissionconsent
proposals are due May 27.

The FCC has proposed clarifying what constitutes
good fair negotiations, which it is empowered to enforce,
as well as whether it should get rid of the syndicated
exclusivity and network-nonduplication rules,
giving cable operators the option of importing outof-
market stations when they reach carriage impasses
with local broadcasters.