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Senate Commerce Committee to Hold Retrans Hearing Nov. 17

expected, the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee
will hold a hearing Nov. 17 on the retransmission consent regime, a
committee source
confirmed Friday. B&C had reported Oct. 19 that Kerry was
looking at holding a hearing that week.

Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) is teeing up legislation, a discussion
draft of which he sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. That came in
midst of the Fox/Cablevision retrans fight.

it a "broken system," Kerry had said the legislation would try to fix
the two-party system, in this case negotiating parties, for the sake of a
third party: consumers. As he telegraphed in a statement following Fox
and Cablevision's failure to come to terms Oct. 15,

the bill would keep signals on the air while the FCC evaluates both
parties and recommends, or doesn't recommend, binding arbitration,
during which carriage would also continue.

to various sources, among the parties the committee is expected to
invite are representatives of Cablevision and News Corp., the central
in the most recent and highest-profile retrans impasse, and FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has told Kerry he supports a
congressional review of retransmission consent. "Under the present
system, the FCC has very few tools with which to protect consumers'
interests in the retransmission consent process," Genachowski told Kerry
in a letter Oct. 29.

possible witness would be a representative of Time Warner Cable. TWC
has been one of the leading voices for retrans reform via the American

and a petition to the FCC to change the retrans rules, including
mandating outside arbitration and keeping stations on the air during
retrans disputes.