Group Wants FCC To Stop Broadcasters From Pulling Signals During Retran Disputes

The Sports Fan Coalition has asked the FCC to keep broadcasters from pulling signals during retransmisson-consent impasses, saying it is in the public's interest and pointing out that sports stadiums are often built with their tax money.
That came in a filing Monday in the FCC's retransmission consent docket. The coalition includes former Bush and Clinton officials, a sports writer, a public advocacy exec and a couple thousand members, according to David Goodfriend, one of the driving forces behind the group and a former EchoStar executive, as well as Clinton administration and Hill staffer.
"The record in this proceeding reveals a battle between broadcast media conglomerates and the pay-TV companies that distribute their programming. The Commission needs to protect a group of people who pay their bills and contribute to ratings but have become collateral damage in this corporate smack-down: sports fans," they wrote.
The group avers that the best solution for fans would be for the commission to prohibit broadcasters from pulling signals, what they call "bloacking access to sporting events."
Broadcasters have argued that removing their ability to remove their signals from cable systems after the contract to do so runs out would be the government predjudicing negotiations in favor of cable operators.
Goodfriend points out that the coalition has weighed in against cable operators, too, on the issue of access to sports programming.
The coalition has tapped Media Access Project for guidance, the Computer & Communications Industry Association for in-kind legal help, and has received funding from Verizon, but none of those advisors have control over the group, according to Goodfriend.

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.