FCC Schedules Vote on Contest Rules

The FCC has scheduled a vote at its Sept. 17 meeting on the order, circulated Aug. 12, allowing broadcasters to put contest rules online, rather than having to put them on air in tiny screen type or rapid-fire oral descriptions on radio, but a proposed framework for third-party access to sensitive information in the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger remains in limbo even though it has three votes to approve.

That is according to a tentative agenda for that meeting. It has support from both Democrats and Republicans, so passage should not be a problem. The contest rules item was one of a series of Media Bureau items circulated by the chairman for a vote several weeks ago.

Expected to be voted before that meeting is an item launching a review of the definition of retransmission consent good faith negotiations, which has to begin by Sept. 4 per a congressional deadline.

It is not clear when the chairman's proposal to eliminate syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules will be voted, or the proposed new protective orders for sensitive information in the FCC's review of the proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable merger will become official.

The latter already has three Democratic votes, but does not become official until all the commissioners have voted it, which they have not, an FCC spokesperson confirmed. Eventually it will become approved de facto, but the other commissioners have three weeks from the time the deciding vote has been cast to vote the item and can get an additional extension from the chairman.

The chairman has said the clock won't start vetting the deal, and more importantly, the comment cycle for public input won't begin, until the orders are voted.

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.