FCC Asks Fox, Cablevision To Defend Negotiations

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The Federal Communications Commission has asked both Cablevision and Fox to explain by Monday, Oct. 25 how their negotiations square with the law that requires them to be "in good faith."

The commission also wants each side to provide any evidence against the other side if they have it.

In a letter to News Corp. president Chase Carey and Cablevision president and CEO James Dolan, FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake said that the commission has defined it as "conducted in an atmosphere of honesty, purpose and clarity of process."

Lake wants each to describe how they are satisfying that requirement in the context of their retransmission-consent battle. "In particular, we request that you describe with specificity what has transpired since you initially began your negotiations, and detail the efforts your company is making to end the current impasse.

"As you know," he concluded, "your contract dispute extends beyond just Fox and Cablevision. Indeed, it affects millions of innocent consumers who expect to watch their preferred broadcast programming without interruption. We urge you to place the interests of these consumers first and conclude your negotiations promptly."

The New York DMA's leading MSO was happy to hear about the commission's request.

 "We welcome the FCC's intervention," said Cablevision spokesman Charles Scheuler. "Whether through FCC action, binding arbitration or any other means, the time has come for News Corp to end the Fox blackout of 3 million Cablevision households."

A Fox spokesman had no comment on the request or whether it would be alleging any bad faith, beyond saying that: "We will respond directly to the FCC."

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