Connecticut legislator seeks FCC intervention in Tribune dispute


Tribune BroadcastingCablevision and Tribune have been unable to reach a retransmission agreement, leaving 50K citizens of Connecticut without a Fox affiliate and causing them to miss out on MLB World Series telecasts. A state senator is asking the FCC to step in.

According to the Milford Mirror, Gayle S. Slossberg (D-Milford) has written asking the FCC to take an active role in the dispute – she suggested that it act as an arbitrator or mediator.

She said that the first role of the FCC is to protect consumers, and said that it has failed to fulfill that mission.

She also suggested that it was unfair that only the two parties are able to file a complaint with the FCC regarding a failure to negotiate in good faith, and suggested that consumers should also be allowed to lodge that type of complaint.

Tribune’s Fox WTIC in Connecticut is warning consumers away from Cablevision. It suggests it is negotiating an initial retransmission package and is only asking for the same type of compensation that Cablevision pays to other broadcasters. It refers consumers to Dish, DirecTV, FiOS, U-Verse and off-air to receive WTIC programming during the current service disruption.

RBR-TVBR observation: For starters, it’s not the FCD – the Federal Communications Dictatorship — it can’t just jump into a dispute and pick a winner or impose a solution. Nor is it the Federal Communications Arbitration Service, for that matter.

It is unfortunate that consumers get caught in the middle of retransmission disputes, but that doesn’t mean having a federal bureaucracy hand down a ruling is the best way to resolve it.

As far as we know, consumers may lodge complaints with the FCC, but there is no way they could have the kind of knowledge about a private negotiation that would allow them to address the ticklish topic of whether or not the bargaining falls into the good faith category.