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Retransmission hearing in Senate this week

The Senate Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing this Wednesday on retransmission, a hot topic in light of the high-profile dispute between News Corp. and Cablevision that pulled programming for several days for 3 million subscribers.

Broadcast and cable executives are expected to include Chase Carey from News Corp., Tom Rutledge of Cablevision and Glenn Britt from Time Warner Cable. Univision’s Joe Uva will speak on behalf of broadcasters, and Ovation’s Charles Segars will represent independent networks.

Subcommittee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, has proposed a draft bill to regulate retransmission, and it has the public backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. It is expected to be discussed at the Nov. 17 hearing.

Broadcasters oppose government intervention in the retransmission issue, arguing it is a business negotiation that should be left to the free marketplace. Cable and satellite operators argue that the FCC should step in and level the playing field, which they argue has shifted to the broadcasters.

Government intervention is now on the front burner, due to New Corp’s Fox network pulling its programming from Cablevision, forcing nearly 3 million northeastern viewers to miss the opening games of the World Series.