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Eshoo Urges CBS, TWC To Resolve Retrans Dispute

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, wants CBS and Time Warner Cable to resolve their retrans dispute ASAP and said she intended to look into whether any changes in law are needed.

In a statement Tuesday, Eshoo, who has long been a critic of retrans blackouts, pointed to the current impasses, said, essentially that enough is enough, and urged both parties in the most high-profile dispute to get a deal done.

“It has been my long held belief that consumers should not be held hostage when retransmission disputes break down,” Eshoo said in an e-mailed statement. "Unfortunately, programming blackouts such as the one underway in eight U.S. markets have become far too common for consumers who simply want to enjoy the programming they pay for each month.

“I urge Time Warner Cable and CBS to reach a swift resolution that reinstates programming to millions of consumers across the country," she said, adding: "I also intend to carefully examine whether changes to current law are needed to adequately protect consumers and prevent the reoccurrence of blackouts.”

The FCC has remained relatively quiet on the current retrans blackouts, and has been historically reluctant to get into those negotiations, pointing to its limited authority. The previous chairman, Julius Genachowski, said Congress was free to step in to clarify or extend the FCC's authority, but that he did not think the commission had the ability to mandate resolutions or disallow blackouts.

But like Eshoo and FCC spokespeople before him, a spokesman for acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn has urged the parties to resolve their disputes ASAP in the interests of their viewers.