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Free Press: FCC Could Do More to Protect Consumers Caught in the Middle of Cable-Broadcast Spats

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission is expected to announce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on retransmission-consent negotiations on Wednesday that would reportedly put in place a definition of good faith bargaining in cable-broadcast carriage disputes.

The announcement by FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake follows an October spat between Fox and Cablevision, in which Fox pulled its channels from Cablevision's lineup, leaving the cable company's subscribers without key sporting events and news coverage.

Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright made the following statement:

"This is a good step toward resolving retransmission disputes, but the FCC will need to do more than just help cable companies and broadcasters. A definition of good faith bargaining does little to stop companies from threatening to pull channels from subscribers, and it does less to help consumers who have lost channels they paid for during a blackout.

"Both sides of this market are broken, and the only lasting fix will be empowering consumers with information about the prices and terms for carriage of each and every channel in their subscription, as well as giving them the right to opt out of paying for any unwanted channels. In the event of signals being pulled, consumers certainly should not have to continue to pay for channels that they no longer receive."


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