Originally published: June 19, 2012
Last updated: June 19, 2012 - 9:43pm
Don't look for any game-changing decisions on retrans out of this Federal Communications Commission, says National Cable and Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell.
Powell was answering audience questions after a Paley Center luncheon conversation, during which he weighed in on the prospects for FCC action. A number of cable operators have been pushing the commission to step into retrans disputes to mandate carriage or arbitration, but the FCC has taken no action. Powell was hardly surprised. Asked how much action he expected from the government on retrans given that cable operator push, he said that when FCC chairmen leave office, they hand their successor a list of things "to stay the hell out of." Retrans, he said, would be one of those. Powell suggested it was a no-win issue for regulators because the FCC does not have a lot of jurisdictional authority, so that if the commission makes the public think it can solve it when it can't, it has to answer for not doing so. He pointed out that neither he nor his predecessors Bill Kennard or Reed Hundt had tackled the issue, and he did not expect current Chairman Julius Genachowski to break with that tradition. He suggested the exception would be if it got new direction from Congress as part of a more comprehensive rewrite of TV regulation.
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