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Verizon Focuses On Standstill

Verizon took a targeted approach to asking the FCC for changes to the retransmission consent regime.

In its comments to the FCC on a petition it co-sponsored along with satellite companies and cable operators large and small, it said, ideally, the commission would get rid of rules like network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity that prevent it from negotiating with out-of-market TV station operators.

But rather than push those points, it said the FCC should at the very least require a standstill agreement that keeps signals from being pulled so long as both sides are bargaining in good faith.

"Because carriage agreements tend to expire during particularly sensitive viewing periods for consumers [as in the end of the year and just before all those college football bowl games] this approach would at least incrementally reduce the potential for consumers to become the victims of brinksmanship."

The petition also asks for outside arbitration and for the FCC to at least look into the impact of bundling co-owned cable channels into the deals.
Verizon says the FCC has the legal authority to impose the standstill provision, and should do so to protect consumers from the high bills that result from"unreasonable demands by broadcasters for inflated retransmission fees."