Chatterblog: Coordinated Retrans Language In Ownership Order?

The chatter in Washington communications circles both outside and inside the FCC Monday - and it was only chatter at publication time - was that there could be some language related to coordinated retransmission consent negotiations in the FCC media ownership rule review order expected to be circulated Wednesday.

There were already clear signals that the chairman was going to schedule a vote on making joint sales agreements (JSAs) of more than 15% attributable, as they are in radio, and ask in a further notice what to do about SSAs and other joint agreements. The FCC is also not expected to loosen the crossownership rules, which would be a reversal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's predecessor.

But with the Department of Justice's comments last week that coordinated retrans could be de facto illegal in some cases - latched onto by the American Cable Association in a filing Monday - the buzz was that the order might explicitly say the FCC will look at those among other factors when considering deals on a case-by-case, public interest basis, as Wheeler has signaled he is committed to doing, whether or not the deals are technically in violation of FCC ownership rules.

In the interests of full disclosure, that chatter came from at least four sources outside the FCC and one inside, though the inside source said they had only heard it outside the building.

So, with a few grains of salt over the shoulder, that was the buzz. Stay tuned.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.