John Dingell asks for speedy FCC action on retransmission


By speedy, we mean that veteran Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) would like to see the FCC’s examination of the rules and regulations that pertain to retransmission consent negotiations be concluded by the end of this year. And without stating it in so many words, it would appear that Dingell favors maintaining the status quo.

In a 5/4/11 letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Dingell brought up the NPRM and acknowledged the importance of the proceeding.

Then he wrote, “While 1believe it is important that the Commission proceed with due deliberation on this and other matters, I encourage the Commission to complete its rulemaking on retransmission consent by year’s end. Moreover, the Commission’s recognition of its limited authority with respect to retransmission consent – most notably in paragraph 19 of the NPRM – and the remedies requested by petitioners suggests that excessive delay on this matter can be avoided.”

Here’s what paragraph 19 of the NPRM says: “In light of the statutory mandate in Section 325 and the restrictions imposed by the ADRA, we do not believe that we have authority to require either interim carriage requirements or mandatory binding dispute resolution procedures.  Parties may comment on that conclusion.  We seek comment below on other ways the Commission can protect the public from, and decrease the frequency of, retransmission consent negotiation impasses within our existing statutory authority.”

So as we read it, Dingell is suggesting that regardless of what the FCC might like to do, there is very little action the FCC can take, so it might just well get the matter over with in an expeditious fashion.

Dingell concluded, “Thank you for you kind attention to my concerns. Reasonable action by the Commission concerning retransmission consent will provide greater certainty in the video marketplace and ultimately benefit American consumers.”

The apparent viewpoint of Dingell is shared by broadcasters, who contend that most retransmission negotiations are peaceful and are resolved with no loss of service. In short, the system is not broken and therefore does not require fixing.