FCC makes a move regarding Fox/Cablevision blackout


Anybody who has been following the free market negotiations between Fox and Cablevision concerning retransmission fees is probably aware that the FCC regulatory tool belt is not well-equipped. But its main tool has now been unsheathed – it is requiring each side to make a showing of good faith on its own part, and provide evidence of lack of same on the part of its opponent. The reports are due 10/25/10.

Media Bureau Chief William T. Lake reiterated concerns expressed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachoswki that the parties were putting their own concerns ahead of the millions of viewers held hostage by the lack of Fox programming on Cablevision systems, and reminded News Corporation’s Chase Carey and Cablevision’s James Dolan of the FCC’s statutory obligation to assure that good faith negotiations are taking place.

Lake wrote, “In particular, we request that you describe with specificity what has transpired since you initially began your negotiations, and detail the efforts your company is making to end the current impasse. If you are aware of any conduct by the other side that you believe violates the good faith requirement, please so indicate and provide supporting evidence.  Please submit this information to me by the close of business Monday, October 25, 2010.”

Cablevision’s Charles Schueler said, “We welcome the FCC’s intervention. Whether through FCC action, binding arbitration or any other means, the time has come for News Corp to end the Fox blackout of 3 million Cablevision households.”

Fox also indicated it would comply with the FCC request.