Retransmission negotiations between Fox and MVPDs Cablevision and DISH Network both have been resolved, but both also featured hardball tactics and disruption of service. So as promised by Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet will hold a lame duck hearing on the topic.
According to Hillicon Valley, Kerry will not be wasting any time – the panel is scheduled to meet 11/17/10.
Kerry explained his plans shortly after Fox came to terms with the two MVPDs. He said, “We’re all happy and relieved to see both strike an agreement and bring an end to a stalemate that frustrated so many consumers. Media interests have every right to play hardball and negotiate hard-nosed agreements. That’s the marketplace. But I believe it’s incumbent upon those of us in public policy to see if there’s a way to help protect consumers and avoid the now regularly scheduled, frequent games of high stakes chicken that leave consumers in the crossfire as collateral damage. Is there a better way? Common sense tells you there has to be. I don’t believe it’s really in anyone’s interests to have these scenarios play out again and again on a regular basis. Certainly at a minimum Congress can bring greater transparency to this process and empower consumers with more information, and work to disincentivize high stakes conflict. What I know is that this system is broken, and I think we’re all better off if we have a dialogue about systemic reform and modernizing the law rather than just jumping into the fray and getting involved in each conflict in isolation. The goal should be a more rational system, and I look forward to working with stakeholders, colleagues and the FCC toward that end.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Ever notice how broadcasters get it from both sides? In this case, broadcasting is being lambasted for withdrawing service. Other times, it is lambasted for providing service, thus encouraging couch potatoes everywhere to lapse into poor health and intellectual laziness.
Just once, we’d like to see a politician say something like, “Broadcaster X and Cable System Y have conspired to darken our television screens. On the plus side, would-be victims of the mindless blather that dominates Newt Minow’s ‘vast wasteland’ have rediscovered indoor and outdoor exercise, family game night, reading, volunteerism and other profitable pastimes. Take your time, Broadcaster X and Cable System Y – go ahead and bicker. We’ve all found better things to do.”
Of course, when that speech is made, we’ll all be ducking down low to avoid the massive herds of flying pigs that will have suddenly appeared.