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Clyburn: Media Companies Need to Avoid CBS/TWC-Like Disputes

FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said Tuesday that she was glad CBS and Time Warner Cable finally struck a carriage deal, but said m3edia companies need to work to make sure such blackouts don't happen in the first time.

"I am pleased CBS and Time Warner Cable have resolved their retransmission consent negotiations, which for too long have deprived millions of consumers of access to CBS programming," she said. "At the end of the day, media companies should accept shared responsibility for putting their audience's interests above other interests and do all they can to avoid these kinds of disputes in the future."

The FCC had been monitoring the negotiations, and a spokesman for the acting chairwoman had told B&C last week that the FCC was actively engaged in trying to help bring a resolution to the impasse, which had kept CBS stations and co-owned cable nets off Time Warner systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Cable and satellite operators represented by the American Television Alliance suggested the FCC had not done enough.

"While we are pleased that CBS programming has finally been restored to Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks, we are disappointed that the FCC chose not to use its authority to protect consumers or to stop CBS from blocking TWC and Bright House Networks broadband customers across the country from accessing its online content," ATVA said in a statement.

The FCC had signaled that while it was inolved in resolving the dispute, it could not weigh in on whether the two were negotiating in good faith--which the FCC is empowered by statute to insure--unless either TWC or CBS filed an official complaint, which neither had done.

ATVA was looking ahead to what it hopes will be Washington action to reform retrans, something it has been pushing the FCC to do.

"When subscribers of six different providers in 58 markets are blacked out of 84 separate stations, how can Congress and the FCC fail to acknowledge that the 21-year-old retrans system is broken?," ATVA said.

ATVA members include TWC, Cablevision, Charter, the American Cable & Telecommunications Association, DirecTV, Dish, USTelecom and many others (