The cable group wants the FCC to add to its list of prohibited “bad faith” retrans negotiation actions a broadcaster’s failure to provide an MVPD with authorization to retransmit its signals, or an MVPD’s refusal to retransmit such signals, during emergency situations.
The American Cable Association wants the FCC to change its “Good Faith” retransmission consent rule to forbid broadcasters from denying service to MVPDs during emergencies.
In a letter today to the commission, the trade group criticized the initial blackout of some TV stations in Puerto Rico owned by Lilly Broadcasting on Dish Network. “We were heartened to learn that, at least in part because of your intervention, the parties have agreed to restore some — but not all — of the broadcaster’s programming,” wrote ACA President Matthew Polka.
He continued: “The commission should find it intolerable for a broadcaster seeking to leverage higher retransmission consent fees to block viewers in a state of emergency from accessing critical, and potentially lifeÃ¢â‚¬Âsaving, information. It is no answer in such a situation for the broadcaster to suggest that viewers should switch providers or install antennas in order to access this information.
“The commission should find it equally intolerable for an MVPD to refuse to retransmit local broadcast signals to viewers during emergencies.
To prevent such actions in the future, Polka cited the commission’s “good faith” rules for retrans negotiations that “prohibit certain behaviors that represent per se bad faith on the part of broadcasters and MVPDs alike. The cmmission should add to this list a broadcaster’s failure to provide an MVPD with authorization to retransmit its signals, or an MVPD’s refusal to retransmit such signals, to any county for which the commission has activated the Disaster Information Reporting System during the period of such activation.”
The letter concludes: “We urge the commission to propose and seek comment on such a rule change as soon as possible in order to avoid consumer harm in future emergencies.”