Diverse group of legislators concerned about retransmission


FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski just made public a stack of correspondence he had engaged in with members of Congress, some of whom wrote individual letters and others who co-signed a letter concerning the ongoing FCC proceeding on the rules of the road for retransmission consent negotiations.

Many of the letters written by legislators indicated no preference for a particular result. Most wanted assurances that the FCC was on the job and was moving with all due speed to bring the matter to a conclusion.

Genachowski sent back responses at the end of September, most with a paragraph along the lines of this one addressed to Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “As you noted, the period established for public comment on the Petition recently closed. The Commission’s Media Bureau is reviewing the record compiled in the proceeding to develop recommendations for Commission consideration. Given the importance of this matter to a wide range of consumers and businesses, we intend to treat this matter seriously.”

The contentious Fox/Cablevision impasse currently in progress has come on the heels of several others involving Cablevision, and as such, the majority of the legislators are from New York and New Jersey. There are far more Democrats than Republicans as well. However, the list of those on the correspondence list does include legislators from both parties and from diverse jurisdictions.

Here is the list:

Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Charles Rangel (D-NY)

Albio Sires (D-NJ)

Mel Watt ( D-NC)

Jerold Nadler (D-NY)

Steve Rothman (D-NJ)

Carolyn McCarthy (D-MO)

Diana DeGette (D-CO)

Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

Tim Bishop (D-NY)

Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)

Bill Young (R-FL)

Howard Coble( R-NC)

Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)

Gregory J. Meeks (D-NY)

Timothy H. Bishop (D-NY)

Steven Israel (D-NY)

Peter King (R-NY)

RBR-TVBR observation: As we understand it, retransmission is considered to be a free market negotiation because that’s how Congress wrote the law, which would seem to indicate that any FCC over-reaching in a rulemaking will simply be shot down in the courts.

Besides that, we believe that MVPDs should not enter into the retransmission proceeding with the assumption that they will come out on top. The FCC has an obligation to protect the interests of free, local, over-the-air broadcasting.

Regardless of what happens at the FCC, this is a good bet to be a hot topic on Capitol Hill, no matter which party is in control.