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FCC Votes Unanimously to Launch Retrans Rulemaking

Mar 3, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission decided on a unanimous vote Thursday that it will propose a number of changes to the current retransmission consent rules, B&C reported.

The changes include clarifying the meaning of “bargaining in good faith” and potentially eliminating the syndicated exclusivity and nonduplication requirements, the story says. The moves appear to be at least in part a response to recent retransmission disputes, which FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said have become more "contentious and more public."

Lake said the FCC is interested in reducing disruptions for the consumer, while also preserving the framework Congress implemented for marketplace negotiations.

“The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking voted on Thursday essentially asks a lot of questions and comments on proposed changes,” B&C reports. “FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at the meeting that those would require statutory change. It issues from the starting point that the FCC does not have the authority to mandate carriage or arbitration. But it does suggest a number of possible changes, specifically to ‘provide more guidance to the negotiating parties on good-faith negotiation requirements; improve notice to consumers in advance of possible service disruptions caused by impasses in retransmission consent negotiations; and eliminate the commission’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, which provide a means for parties to enforce certain exclusive contractual rights to network or syndicated programming through the commission rather than through the courts.’"

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