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Cable Association Seeks Changes In Compulsory License

The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents smaller cable operators, has asked the Copyright Office to modify the compulsory license that covers payments for carriage of TV stations.

In hearings on a Copyright Office inquiry into possible changes in the license regime, ACA said the blanket license was still a good idea, but should be reformed. It outlined four proposals, including no longer paying for retransmitting local TV signals.

Saying the current regime as it stands is burdensome, unfair, unjustified, and irrational, ACA said that in addition to getting rid of blanket payments on local station retransmissions, which satellite carriers don't have to pay for, t the Copyright office should 2) get rid of so-called "market quotas" that limits the number of stations that can be carried; 3) get rid of the "phantom signal" problem in which cable companies have to pay for carrying distant signals, even where those signals don't air; and 4) clarify that Fox TV stations are network, not independent, stations for purposes of carriage rules.

The office is currently holding hearings on the possible changes.