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Comcast's Roberts Tells Genachowski: No Quick Retrans Fixes

According to an ex parte filing with the FCC posted Jan. 12, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Comcast chief Brian Roberts met Jan. 7 in Las Vegas, where the chairman was speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show.

During the meeting, the two discussed retransmission consent, TV set-tops, network neutrality and the broadband plan. No mention of the Comcast /NBC Universal deal in the ex parte and a Comcast source says it was not a topic of conversation.

Roberts cautioned that there are no quick fixes to the retrans process, according to Comcast, but that the FCC needs to get together with industry to see whether "different approaches" are needed.

On set-tops, Roberts echoed the National Cable & Telecommunications Association call for the FCC to launch a wide-ranging notice of inquiry more comprehensive than the requests for comment on the subject issued as part of the broadband plan. The FCC is widely expected to ask for more comment (specifically reply comments) on set-tops as part of that request, but the cable industry wants a larger examination of the issue that includes a hard look at the result of the FCC's ban on integrated set-tops, which the commission has conceded has not spurred a retail market in the devices.

The discussions of network neutrality and the broadband plan were said to be reiterations of prior positions by Comcast.

The meeting came the day before FCC and Comcast lawyers squared off in Washington on the issue of network management, specifically the FCC's finding that Comcast violated its Internet openness principles by blocking/impeding peer-to-peer traffic. Comcast challenged that decision saying the FCC was not empowered to adjudicate based on principles rather than laws.