Originally published: March 4, 2011
Last updated: March 4, 2011 - 7:15pm
[Commentary] The Federal communications Commission launched a review of its retransmission consent rules that proposes eliminating network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules. The rules, in essence, give stations a means of enforcing the local exclusivity that they get from their networks and syndicators.
This is no small matter. Without non-dupe and syndex, the negotiating position of stations would be dramatically eroded. Unable to come to terms with a local ABC affiliate, a cable system could simply import an affiliate from the next market over with impunity, assuming the system had, one way or another, obtained retrans consent from the out-of-market station. Sure, viewers would lose the local news of the local stations, but even in the smallest markets there are still one or two local news alternatives. The FCC rulemaking suggests that the rules may no longer be necessary since stations can enforce their local exclusivity rights in court. But independent TV-Fox-ABC-Disney lobbyist emeritus Preston Padden, who now teaches at the University of Colorado, points out that that simply is not true. In fact, he says in a missive he sent to broadcast lawyers and lobbyists following the FCC vote, broadcasters would find little help in court because of the compulsory license, which goes back to 1976 and which allows cable and satellite operators to import out-of-market signals without infringing anybody’s copyright.
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