The New Jersey delegation to the US Senate, Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), are calling for the FCC to impose itself into the dispute over retransmission fees between News Corp./Fox and Cablevision. The senators represent constituents in both the New York and Philadelphia DMAs, both affected by the dispute.
In a letter for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, they urged the FCC to act as an intermediary between the two, and to begin swift action of a petition to modify the rules governing retransmission consent negotiations pending since March.
“Unfortunately, the FOX and Cablevision dispute is not an isolated incident,” they asserted. “Disputes between broadcasters and video providers appear to be increasing. Just last March, Cablevision and Disney/WABC-TV failed to reach an agreement and the WABC-TV signal was pulled from Cablevision. While that signal was eventually restored, it was only after Cablevision customers were without WABC-TV for approximately 20 hours, including the first 15 minutes of the Academy Awards broadcast. Upcoming retransmission consent negotiations between FOX and the DISH Network may put even more hardworking New Jerseyans at risk of losing television programming that they have come to expect and rely on for their local news and entertainment. We are deeply troubled that consumers are repeatedly being used as pawns in these programming disputes.”
The concluded, “We urge the FCC to work diligently and expeditiously to consider the comments that have been filed on that petition and revise its rules. We ask that the FCC provide us with a response within five business days that outlines a firm schedule for the FCC’s action on the pending retransmission consent petition (MB Docket No. 10-71). Continued delay in reforming the retransmission consent process will only harm consumers in New Jersey and throughout the country.”