FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski came out with a strongly worded rebuke of both Cablevision and Fox, taking them to task for gamesmanship ahead of serious negotiation in their ongoing dispute of retransmission fees. Meanwhile, the NAB strongly defended the negotiating process.
“I am deeply troubled that Cablevision and Fox are spending more time attacking each other through ads and lobbyists than sitting down at the negotiating table,” said Genachowski. “The time for petty gamesmanship is over. I have called the CEOs of both companies and reiterated the importance of reaching a deal, as many companies have done before. I reminded the companies that they share responsibility for consumer disruption, and that they shouldn’t punish consumers because of their unwillingness to reach a deal. I also insisted that they negotiate in good faith. We will continue to scrutinize their actions very closely. We are continuing to work to ensure that consumers understand all of their options, which are outlined at FCC.gov.”
NAB’s Dennis Wharton noted, “As history has shown, 99.9 percent of these deals are reached without disruption. We don’t have a broken system; we have a broken pay-TV company that likes to play Washington games. Broadcasters and pay-TV operators share a mutual interest in reaching a fair, market-oriented carriage deal. Only when one party shifts their focus, pleading to government instead of negotiating fairly, does that mutual desire dissolve.”
RBR-TVBR observation: When most consent negotiations are resolved peacefully, and the same name keeps coming up over and over again when they are not – are we the only ones thinking Cablevision here? – you have to stop blaming the process and start looking at the company.