Senators Urge Wheeler To Keep Exclusivity

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.

Four senators today told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that his plan to repeal the exclusivity rules is “premature” as long as the current copyright license laws remain unchanged.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla) wrote the chairman: “The cable compulsory copyright license is designed to work in tandem with the FCC’s exclusivity rules.”

Eliminating the network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules “without making corresponding changes to the compulsory copyright license system will potentially alter the way in which the cable compulsory copyright license is intended to function and disrupt local television businesses and viewing households,” they added.

“We feel it would be premature for the FCC to repeal the exclusivity rules while the current compulsory copyright license regime remains unchanged. We ask that the FCC cooperate with our committees to identify an approach that appropriately balances both copyright and communications regulation.”

NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton commented: “NAB greatly appreciates the leadership and concerns raised by Chairmen Grassley and Thune, and Ranking Members Leahy and Nelson over the FCC’s proposal to eliminate program exclusivity rules. These rules sustain a broadcast business model built on localism and competition that is a great American success story.

“We further support the interest expressed by all four of these respected members of Congress in a holistic rather than piecemeal legislative approach to this issue. NAB pledges to work with both Committees on legislation that ensures the appropriate balance between the copyright and communications aspects of this issue. Today’s letter adds to the recent FCC outreach from Senators Schumer and Feinstein as well as Congressional Black Caucus leadership, and signals clear congressional opposition to its proposal.”


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the FCC earlier in the day as well in support of preserving the broadcast exclusivity rules until the completion of a Government Accountability Office report on the issue that is due in mid-2016.

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Ellen Samrock says:

October 9, 2015 at 6:41 pm

So what is this rumor I’m hearing that Tom Wheeler may step down as Chairman in Jan’ 2016 to be replaced by Jessica Rosenworcel? For broadcasters this would be a sideways move as Jessica is no friend to the industry–like Wheeler is no friend to the industry.