FCC To Reconsider Rules For Negotiations Between Broadcasters And Cable Companies

In recent years, the disputes between cable companies and broadcasters have gotten especially ugly as boardroom squabbles have spilled over onto the airwaves and online. And in the end, it’s always the subscribers who get hurt with blackouts and eventual price hikes. That’s why the FCC voted today to reinvestigate the rules and its role in these negotiations.

“Retransmission consent negotiations have become more contentious recently and consumers have gotten caught in the middle,” said FCC honcho Julius Genachowski. “it’s time to take a fresh look.”

To allay concerns that the FCC is looking to increase its presence in these disputes, the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking states that it “doesn’t have the authority to require broadcast television stations to provide their signals to pay television providers or to require binding arbitration.” ‬‪

However, there are areas in which the FCC can exert its authority. For example, the agency is considering doing away with rules that prevent a cable operator from carrying a station from a neighboring town if a deal can’t be struck with the local station.

The agency says it will ask from input from all sides, including consumer advocates, on proposed rule changes.

“The FCC’s Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking is an important first step for consumers, because it recognizes that consumers are the ones who are harmed when programming is pulled – or threatened to be pulled – from cable systems,” said an exec from Cablevision in a statement to Consumerist.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters had this too say:

Broadcasters will continue working earnestly to ensure that consumers receive no TV service disruptions, mindful that even the threat of injecting government into a market-based process only incentivizes pay TV providers to game the process.

FCC votes to reexamine its rules on negotiations between broadcasters and cable operators [L.A. Times]

FCC Kicks Off Review of Retrans Rules [Hollywood Reporter]