FCC Chief Worried Over Retrans Aftershocks

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Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius
Genachowski said Tuesday that he favored the marketplace over the government in
retrans negotiations, but said he still thought their were "legitimate
questions" about whether the process needed review.

Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters
convention in Las Vegas, he suggested
that his focus is on the consumers who are affected by retransmission-consent
impasses.

"I agree that the market is the preferred method to
determine broadcast-cable arrangements," Genachowski said in his keynote
speech. "At the same time, these commercial negotiations between broadcasters
and multichannel video providers affect third parties who aren't at the table."

He said he was concerned about the effect on cable rates of
broadcasters getting cash for their programming, as well as the "program
interruptions."

"There are legitimate questions about whether to update the
20-year-old framework for retransmission consent and must-carry," he said. "As
we move forward, I'll be focused on making sure we have a framework that is
fair to consumers, as well as each of the businesses involved."

The FCC has opened an inquiry into the retransmission-consent regime, prompted in part by congressional
criticism of retrans and recent impasses that threatened college bowl games and
the Academy Awards.

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