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FCC Seeks Comment on ACA Request

The Federal Communications Commission Thursday sought public comment on a small-cable-operator proposal designed to expand access to broadcast-network programming when local network affiliates elect retransmission consent.

The FCC’s public notice gave American Cable Association supporters and opponents 30 days to file comments.

The ACA is seeking a change in FCC network-exclusivity rules so that any cable operator could import a distant network signal to substitute for the local affiliate's signal when the local affiliate has elected retransmission consent instead of must-carry.

Under the ACA's plan, distant network stations would need to grant retransmission consent.

The ACA is hoping that the proposed rule change, if adopted, would allow cable companies to shop around for the best price for network programming, even though the imported station’s local news and weather would relate to another community.

Broadcasters are expected to oppose the ACA, arguing that the plan would threaten localism and the network-affiliate relationship.