FCC Ponders Retrans Document Request

Seeks Input on Desire by Broadcast, Cable Ops to Shield Contracts

The FCC has given interested parties until Friday (Sept. 26) to comment on whether the FCC should extend additional protections to copies of retransmission consent- and program carriage-related documents it is asking for in connection with its review of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable/Charter and AT&T/DirecTV merger proposals.

Some broadcasters and cable companies have told the commission the information is highly confidential and that the contracts should be reviewed at the Justice Department because FCC protective orders are not sufficient to protect the information if the FCC places them in the public record of the proceeding.

The FCC wants a lot of answers in a short amount of time.

"Are the documents cited by the filers -- programming agreements and retransmission consent agreements --materials that warrant additional protection beyond that provided pursuant to our existing protective orders in these proceedings?" the FCC asks. "Are there other categories of documents for which additional protection should be considered? Are the current protective orders in these proceedings sufficient to protect the confidentiality of such materials?"

Among those asking the FCC to review the documents at Justice were CBS, Disney, Fox, Scripps, Time Warner Cable, Raycom, and a collective filing by TV station groups LIN, Gray, Nextstar, Sinclair and Scripps.