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Reps. Rap Retrans In 'Dear Colleague' Letter

The bipartisan duo Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) are seeking their colleagues' signatures on a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to launch a rulemaking on reforming retransmission consent.

That is according to a copy of the letter obtained by B&C.

"Given the harm to consumers under the current system, and considering the signficant marketplace developments since the retransmission consent regime was created in 1992," they write, "we believe that it is time for the commission to reexamine its rules governing retransmission consent and act to protexct consumers."

They point out that a group of retrans critics petitioned the FCC for retrans changes on March 9 (the Time Warner Cable-led coaltion most of whose members coalesced into the American TV Alliance [ATVA] this week). The comment period is over and they urged the FCC to "quickly" issue a proposed rulemaking.

Echoing the consumer focus of the new ATVA retrans coalition, the legislators say they have serious concerns about retrans disputes' impact on viewrs, "who either lose access to broadcast programming or bear the increased costs of such programming in the form of more expensive bill from the pay-TV provider.

In a "dear colleage" letter accompanying the Genachowski letter, Israel and King ask other legislators to send the ltter, saying that while there is merit to the arguments of both broadcasters and cable operators, it is ultimately TV viewers who lose out. "Outdated rules governing retransmission consent are causing harm to consumers in the video marketplace."