Public knowledge president Gigi Sohn said Thursday the FCC should step in to mandate carriage if Time Warner/Fox and Mediacom/Sinclair retransmission-consent disputes are not resolved by Dec. 31.
That's when the contracts expire and the stations of Fox and Sinclair will be removed from the cable systems unless a deal or agreement on interim carriage is struck.
Sohn said in a statement that both stand-offs would benefit from interim carriage, but also said the impasse demonstrates why Congress and the FCC need to revisit the retrans system to make sure viewers are not disenfrancised.
Both Time Warner and Mediacom support interim carriage deals, while Fox does not. Sinclair, which has said it would only back a year extension and at the current asking price. Mediacom has said it would back a 90-day extension at that price. On Thursday afternoon, though, Mediacom and Sinclair were said to be in discussions about an eight-day extension.
While she was at it, Sohn made a pitch for a bunch of reforms she would like to see, including "1) mandatory unbundling of programming; 2) elimination of the prohibition against cable and satellite operators importing "distant" broadcast signals; 3) transparency for all retransmission consent contracts; and 4) a requirement that retransmission consent licenses be on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms."
According to a source, Sohn also taped an interview Thursday about the feuds for ABC's World News Tonight, slated for airing Thursday as the clock ticks down to the dropping of signals rather than that Time Square ball.