They come to Washington to reinforce the importance of the commission’s network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules to the health of local TV broadcasting in the wake of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to scrap them.
Retired NAB General Counsel Jane Mago: “An old adage says that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. In the world of communications, I would posit a variation on that adage: Those who have lived through regulatory controversies are doomed to repeat them — forever. As one who has witnessed many regulatory controversies since 1978, I am one of the doomed. The current controversy over network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity provides a prime example.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the effects of eliminating the FCC’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would “depend on other federal actions and industry response.” Although the GAO report is far from conclusive, it serves as a strong reminder that the commission’s exclusivity rules are part of an intricate regulatory structure in existence of decades. Removing one piece will necessarily have collateral effects that are difficult to predict or quantify.
In comments on the commission’s syndicated exclusivity and network non-duplication rules, Cablevision and Charter want the FCC to require broadcasters to offer “reasonable ” and “nondiscriminatory” retransmission consent rates to pay TV operators, “not tied to carriage of any other programming service.” But broadcasters told the FCC that the syndex/non-dupe rules are critical to their businesses. They “inherently promote localism by enhancing the value and protecting the service that local television stations provide to the heart of their communities,” said CBS.