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ATVA Opposes Request to Push FCC Retrans Comment Deadline

The American Television Alliance has asked the FCC to deny broadcasters request to extend the comment deadline on the FCC review of retrans negotiations. "Broadcasters cannot expect the public interest to go on hiatus while they prepare for their auction," it said.

THe National Association of Broadcasters and the Big Four network affiliate associations asked the FCC to extend the deadlines on comments and replies from December to February and March ( They pointed out that December will be a busy month with the deadlines for incentive auction participation, and suggested if the FCC wanted broadcaster participation--it does--moving the deadline would allow them to focus on the auctions "unique opportunities."

ATVA quickly filed its own petition. It told the FCC broadcasters should not need to push the deadline by two months. "However important the incentive auction may be to broadcasters, retransmission consent reform is long overdue and this matter can no longer wait," they said.

ATVA said it was sure broadcasters could do more than one thing at a time. "For example,: ATVA said, "the auction presumably will not prevent broadcasters from negotiating retransmission consent agreements as they expire....The broadcast associations, moreover, rank among the oldest, largest, and most sophisticated advocacy organizations in the communications sector.4 They are more than capable of dealing with multiple issues simultaneously."

ATVA has pushed long and hard for retrans reforms while NAB has pushed as hard back, saying the regime is working and broadcasters are just finally realizing the true value of their signals, which traditionally have delivered the highest-rated programming on cable.

In the legislation renewing the distant signal compulsory license, Congress directed the FCC to launch a review of what constitutes good faith negotiations, in particular what should be considered in the "totality of circumstances" test.

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.