House Chief Deputy Whip Advises FCC to Stay Out of Fox/Cablevision Fight

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In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski dated Oct. 15, House Chief Deputy Whip G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said that Cablevision and Fox should negotiate the terms of a deal "without government interference."

The two sides face a midnight deadline for a retransmission consent deal or Fox stations could go dark on the cable operators systems.

"In many markets, including those covered in this current negoation [those include in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania], consumers have many options for viewing content: a cable operator, two satellite providers, two telephone companies, the internet, and over-the-air," according to a copy of the letter obtained by Multichannel News. He said inserting the government into "business-to-business negotiations" could have long-term impacts. "In order to continue to foster strong competition, private companies should engage in these negotiations without government intervention."

The FCC has been monitoring the negotiations, according to Genachowski, and urging a settlement, but the commission has historically treated retrans as a marketplace negotiation and so far has shown no indication of doing more than monitoriing and urging.