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It's Official: Senate Commerce to Look at Cable Act, Retrans July 24

The Senate Commerce Committee has made it official. Confirming a prior report, the committee Monday announced a July 24 hearing on the 1992 Cable Act -- the one that established the retransmission consent-must-carry regime.

The 20-year look back is a follow-up to a future of video hearing the committee held in April. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made it clear that retrans will be one of the key issues on the table.

"We can't look to the future of video without evaluating the Cable Act's impact on the modern television marketplace and whether the legislation has achieved Congress' goals," he said in announcing the hearing. "In particular, I want to take a close look at how we make sure that consumers do not continue to get caught in the crossfire in programming disputes, facing dark screens and losing access to news, sports, and other entertainment programming."

As reported, the witnesses are Melinda Witmer of Time Warner Cable; Colleen Abdoulah of WOW! Internet, Cable, and Phone and the American Cable Association; Martin Franks of CBS; Gordon Smith of the National Association of Broadcasters; Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America, and Preston Padden of the University of Colorado (and former top D.C. exec for Disney).