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Senate Hearings Planned on Retransmission

May 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said Monday that the Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearings on allegations that the Big 4 TV networks are abusing retransmission consent rules by requiring cable operators to pay for cable networks that neither they nor cable subscribers want.

“We’ll take a look at it,” the senator said. “It bothers me a little bit that retransmission led to something Congress did not contemplate.” He made his comments during a conference of the American Cable Association in Washington.

He also said he still wants cable to offer a family-friendly tier of cable programming but added that he does not want to legislate tiering “if I can possibly avoid it.” He suggested that one way cable could satisfy him would be to develop a system that would provide parents with two remotes for each TV set, including one that would permit children to access only the programs that parents want their children to see.

With the digital television conversion looming, he also said it is wrong that manufacturers continue to make and sell analog-only TV sets. “I think we’re going to have to find some way to put the fear of God into them to start building the digital sets we need,” Sen. Stevens said.