As promised, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, has put a discussion of the retransmission negotiation process on the schedule.
Entitled “Television Viewers, Retransmission Consent, and the Public Interest,” it’s on the calendar for Wednesday 11/17/10 at 2:30PM.
Kerry has had a long-standing interest in the withdrawal of programming as a negotiating, as well as issues involving competitive access to must have programming. However, the spur for the current hearing was the loss of access to Fox broadcast television stations and certain cable offerings experienced by subscribers to Cablevision during a contentious retransmission stand-off last month.
Fox was also involved simultaneously in a dispute with DISH Network; and Cablevision has had prior encounters with ABC and Scripps Networks.
Congress created the rules that call for a free market negotiation over retransmission rights, but many members have become increasingly agitated about loss of service to innocent subscribers while large corporations play hardball with one another, despite the fact that no matter how loud and messy negotiations become, they are almost invariably resolved without any program disruption.
It is expected that representatives from both Fox and Cablevision will be on the panel for this hearing.