FCC Disallows Coordinated Retrans Among Top TV Stations

The FCC voted unanimously to prevent coordinated retransmission consent negotiations by two or more of the top four TV stations in a market.

It did so by making such coordinated retrans among those stations a violation of the requirement that broadcasters negotiate in good faith.

Broadcasters were not happy with the provision, arguing that cable operators themselves get to coordinate, but had conceded it was going to pass.

Both the Republicans and Democrats agreed that coordinated retrans can translate into above-market fees. Commissioner Pai was also pleased with what it did not do. "This provision allows the Commission to proscribe certain negotiating tactics in order to ensure good faith negotiations between broadcast stations and MVPDs, such as refusing to respond to a retransmission consent proposal. But it does not give the Commission the power to mandate the substantive outcome of retransmission consent negotiations."

The commissioner also voted to seek comment on whether to eliminate the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules. Getting rid of those would allow MVPDs to import out of market stations if unable to strike a deal with a similar in market broadcaster.

John Eggerton

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.