Markey Urges Sunbeam, DirecTV to Resolve Retrans Impasse

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Friday urged Sunbeam and DirecTV to make an Olympic effort to resolve their retrans dispute so Boston viewers can see the race for gold.

That came in a letter to the two companies and the FCC Friday (aug. 5), the day of the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Rio.

Markey pointed out that Sunbeam's WHDH, which is carrying some of the NBC Sports Olympic coverage--it is on more than a half-dozen channels including NBCSN and MSNBC and Bravo--has been off the air since July 16, Markey pointed out.

“We need these companies to work at Olympic record-breaking speed to resolve this dispute and get WHDH back on the air for Boston viewers,” said Markey in a statement.

Markey asked the FCC to step in and bring the parties together to help reach a settlement.

An FCC spokesperson was not available at press time to comment on the letter.

The FCC is reluctant to get into retrans negotiations. But after the FCC decided to take no action on better defining good faith negotiations, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler signaled the FCC was still paying attention, and has said before that blackouts that impact viewers should be avoided when possible.

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.