Originally published: June 25, 2010
Last updated: June 25, 2010 - 3:54pm
Speaking the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, Federal Communications Commission member Robert McDowell said he thinks the FCC should "think twice" before stepping into the retransmission consent fray.
"Among my concerns is our statutory authority in this area. Section 325 of the Communications Act explicitly directs us to act only to preserve "good faith" in the bargaining process, and does not require any particular outcome. The statute also plainly states that merely asking for more money does not constitute bad faith." Commissioner McDowell said it is unclear what the impact of fees on cable prices is. Broadcasters argue that there is no direct correlation, while cable operators say that it obviously does. McDowell cited a study that found that only a third of a consumer's cable bill was driven by programming costs, and only 2% of that by the cost of TV station signals. He said he would welcome guidance from Congress and in the meantime was meeting with his legal team and interested parties on the issue. Given that some petitions are asking for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, he said he doubted he had heard the last about the issue.
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