Retrans Rules Get Once-Over — Again

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Washington — Fans and foes of retransmissionconsent
rules, particularly smaller cable operators,
will get a second chance to make their case to the
Federal Communications Commission.

Even as the FCC mulls comments in its open review
of retransmission-consent rules, it has just opened a
second front for comment on those and many other

As part of an annual review of the impact of its regulations
on “small entities” (small businesses, minorities)
per the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the agency
has just published a list of the rules it says have “a significant economic impact on a substantial number
of small entities.” Retransmission-consent rules are
among the rules the FCC has “chosen for review,” as
are cable rate regulations and many others.

The American Cable Association, not one to miss
the opportunity to point out the effects of regulations
on its smaller, independent cable-operator constituents,
is likely to weigh in. “ATVA applauds the FCC for
including retransmission-consent rules in its annual
review of the impact of regulations on small businesses,”
the American Television Alliance, of which
ACA is a member, said last week.

“The purpose of the review is to determine whether
such rules should be continued without change, or
should be amended or rescinded,” said the FCC in its

After the list has been published in the Federal
Register, which usually takes a week or so, the public
and industry have 60 days to comment on: “the
continued need for the rule; the nature of complaints
or comments received concerning the rule from the
public; the complexity of the rule; the extent to which
the rule overlaps, duplicates or confl icts with other
Federal rules, and, to the extent feasible, with State
and local governmental rules; and the length of time
since the rule has been evaluated or the degree to
which technology, economic conditions, or other factors
have changed in the area affected by the rule.”

There are 32 pages worth of rules to be reviewed,
including everything from cable rate regulations and
Universal Service Fund payments to the requirement
of “each broadcast station to maintain a local or tollfree
telephone number in its community of license.”

According to an FCC spokesperson, this periodic
review is unrelated to the FCC’s regulatory-review
plan, which it has said it will deliver in response to the
president’s request that independent agencies publish
a plan for reviewing regulations for their impact
on jobs and the economy.