FCC Media Bureau Chief Tells Fox and Cablevision Execs to Prove ‘Good Faith’
October 22, 2010
Media Bureau Chief William Lake today told the top executives at Cablevision
and Fox to pony up evidence they’re negotiating a retransmission agreement in
“good faith.” Lake dispatched a letter to News Corp. chief Chase Carey and
Cablevision’s James Dolan, noting Congress’s directive that they do so. News
Corp. pulled three TV stations and three cable networks off of Cablevision
systems a week ago, affecting around 3 million subscribers in and around New
York. ( ) See “FCC Issues
Directive for Cablevision Subscribers.”
“Dear Messrs. Carey and Dolan:
We are deeply concerned about the impact of your current retransmission consent
dispute on consumers in Cablevision’s service area. As Chairman Genachowski has
stressed, both parties share responsibility for consumer disruption caused by
your unwillingness to reach a deal. We are troubled, as the chairman said, ‘that
Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and
lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table.’ I know that you are
aware that both broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors
(MVPDs) have a statutory duty to engage in ‘good faith’ negotiations.
“The commission has stated its belief that ‘by imposing the good faith obligation,
Congress intended that . . . broadcasters and MVPDs meet to negotiate
retransmission consent and that such negotiations are conducted in an
atmosphere of honesty, purpose and clarity of process.’
“We ask each of you to describe to us how your company is satisfying this
important statutory obligation in the context of your retransmission consent
negotiations. In particular, we request that you describe with specificity what
has transpired since you initially began your negotiations, and detail the
efforts your company is making to end the current impasse.
“If you are aware of any conduct by the other side that you believe violates
the good faith requirement, please so indicate and provide supporting evidence.
Please submit this information to me by the close of business Monday, Oct. 25,
“As you know, your contract dispute extends beyond just Fox and Cablevision. Indeed,
it affects millions of innocent consumers who expect to watch their preferred
broadcast programming without interruption.
“We urge you to place the interests of these consumers first and conclude your
negotiations promptly. Please call me as soon as possible if you have any
questions about this letter.”
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