03.17.2011 12:17 PM
FCC NPRM seeks comment on proposed retrans consent rule changes

The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) March 3 to look at possible changes to rules concerning retransmission consent negotiations.

The NPRM proposes changes designed to minimize video programming service disruptions to consumers caused by disputes between television stations and pay television services about broadcast program carriage.

The commission is seeking comment on proposals that would:

  • Provide more guidance to negotiating parties on good-faith negotiation requirements;
  • Improve notification to viewers prior to possible disruptions due to negotiation impasses;
  • Eliminate commission rules regarding network nonduplication and syndication.

The NPRM expresses the FCC's view that the agency doesn't have the authority to require broadcast television stations to provide their signals to pay television providers or to require binding arbitration.

"Retransmission consent negotiations have become more contentious recently, and consumers have gotten caught in the middle," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in statement released with the NPRM. "Last fall, millions of cable subscribers lost access to baseball playoff and World Series games, and many other viewers have been blindsided by less publicized disputes. Even as we vote this item, there's a looming retransmission consent impasse between a nationwide satellite TV provider and a large broadcast group with major network affiliates."

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