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Sources: FCC Still Taking Meetings on Syndex/Non-dupe

As of mid-afternoon Friday (Sept. 11), FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to eliminate the syndicated exclusivity and network non-duplication rules had not been voted -- except by the chairman, whose circulation of the order indicates his obvious support -- and multiple sources said commissioners were still taking meetings and had not yet established their positions on the proposal.

Even some supporters of eliminating the rules have suggested that the FCC should take no action unless Congress also eliminates the compulsory license that allows MVPDs to carry TV station programming without having to negotiate payment separately with each content provider.

Broadcasters have been in many of those meetings, pushing back hard on the proposal. The National Association of Broadcasters organized a fly-in of TV station execs to argue against eliminating exclusivity rules they say are working and are crucial to preserving localism.

The rules prevent MPVDs from importing network or syndicated programming that duplicates programming on local TV stations, including when MVPDs can't strike retrans renewals and that programming is blacked out on local systems in those markets; it is always still available over the air or, in many cases, on alternate providers like DBS or telco TV.

The FCC announced its tentative agenda for its Sept. 17 public meeting, and the syndex/non-dupe order is not scheduled. That would force a vote, but the chairman would likely not do that unless he had the votes lined up to pass it, which may not yet be the case, one FCC source said.

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.