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Carr in Driver’s Seat

WASHINGTON — NCTA-The Internet & Television Association sent its A team to the Federal Communications Commission to pitch Republican Brendan Carr, a potential swing vote on any broadcast-deregulation decision, on looking beyond what would likely be his natural deregulatory bent.

That group included NCTA president Michael Powell, who once backed various broadcast deregulatory moves as FCC chair during the George W. Bush administration, and senior vice president Rick Chessen, former top aide to the more regulatory former FCC chair Michael Copps.

At stake for ISPs is the FCC potentially giving broadcasters even more power in retrans negotiations, which determine how much those ISPs will have to pony up for TV station signals. The issue is FCC chair Ajit Pai’s proposal to allow for ownership of two of the top four stations in a market under certain circumstances, which is currently prohibited under any circumstances.

NCTA has argued that would have the effect of allowing for joint retransmission negotiations by those co-owned market leaders, which the FCC has said is “anticompetitive and harmful to consumers.”

“There is nothing in the current record that would permit the commission to essentially overturn that finding,” the NCTA group told the FCC.

If the FCC does approve the rule change, NCTA wants it to extend the ban on joint retrans to include those newly allowed commonly owned top-four stations.

Chessen had a follow-up meeting with staffers of regulatory-minded Mignon Clyburn to press the point as well.

The FCC is expected to vote on that proposal Nov. 16.

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.