NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton: “Programming impasses are exceedingly rare, and those that occur are the result of bad actor pay-TV operators trying to game the system.”
The chairman tells Senate members who oppose his plan to drop the FCC’s network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules that the rules are unnecessary and may actually hinder “the market from operating in a fair and efficient manner” and could aggravate “the harm to consumers during retransmission consent disputes.”
The FCC seems bent on usurping congressional Article One authority, as its just-announced decision to consider including the “exclusivity rule” on their docket for their next open meeting shows. Let’s be clear: There is no legitimate free-market argument for the FCC to once again overstep its authority and throw local, over-the-air broadcasters into a legal limbo with an existential threat by arbitrarily changing the exclusivity rule.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been calling for the FCC to reconsider the broadcaster exclusivity rule. At first blush, getting rid of rules sounds like a good idea. Who doesn’t want more deregulation? The problem is this isn’t the comprehensive video market reform that would unwind 70 years of video regulation in a way that would benefit both consumers and innovation. Instead, it’s another example of cherry-picked “deregulation” which seeks ways to advantage one competitor and/or one format over another, rather than taking a more holistic approach to reforms.
Chuck Grassley, Patrick Leahy, John Thune and Bill Nelson tell the FCC chairman that the rules should remain until a comprehensive review can be made of them and cable compulsory copyright license.
The influential Democratic senator from New York Chuck Schumer tells FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that his proposed changes to the network non-duplication and syndication exclusivity rules are a mistake and no changes should be made without a comprehensive and “broad public dialogue with Congress and all the relevant stakeholders.”
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.
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.