Verizon to FCC: Fix Broken Retrans System

Add telco video provider Verizon to those asking the FCC to fix the "broken" retrans system.

That came in the company's comments to the FCC on what should be in its next annual video competition report to Congress.

Sounding like a spokescompany for the American Television Alliance, of which it is a member, Verizon talked about rising prices and increasing blackouts and the need to  
unbundle programming.

The FCC has just opened, per a congressional mandate, a separate proceeding on its definition of good faith retrans negotiation. Verizon suggests that the FCC could make part of the definition of bad faith "if the broadcaster does not make an economically viable stand-alone offer for carriage of just the broadcast station signal. And the Commission should find a lack of good faith when a broadcaster does not grant the MVPD flexibility to place programming in tiers that allow consumers to select the channels they prefer to include in their subscriptions."

Verizon also wants a mandatory standstill, interim carriage requirement, and "cooling off" period when retrans contracts expire without a new one.

The company also put in a plug for FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to eliminate the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules that prevent MVPDs from importing duplicative network and syndicated programming into a TV market.

"Completing this action is a step in the right direction to repair the artificial imbalance in negotiating strengths resulting from the existing retransmission consent regime," said Verizon.

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.