Washington

State Senator Seeks FCC Intervention in Tribune/Cablevision

Says commission should step in to arbitrate or investigate 10/25/2012 09:39:42 PM Eastern

Connecticut state senator Gayle Slossberg
Thursday called on the FCC to  intervene in the retrans impasse between
Tribune and Cablevision, pointing to constituents who since August
have not been able to see Fox programming on Cablevision (Tribune's WTIC
Hartford), including the baseball playoffs and World Series, which started
Wednesday.

It
is usually big-ticket spots programs that draw the attention of Washington to retrans battles.

"I
write to you today on behalf of the 50,000 viewers in Connecticut, half of whom are in
my senatorial district, who since August have not been able to view certain NFL
games and, as of last night, the World Series, as a result of the impasse
between Cablevision and Tribune Broadcasting Company," Slossberg wrote to the
commission. "As Federal Communications Commission Commissioner [Michael] Copps
accurately noted, ‘The FCC [is] intended first and foremost to be a consumer
protection agency . . . ' It has utterly failed in that mission."

Copps
has not been on the commission since December of last year, but was replaced by
his former aide, Jessica Rosenworcel.

Taking
a page from the American Television Alliance, Slossberg suggested the FCC step
in to arbitrate the dispute, then added her own twist--that consumers should be
able to complain directly to the FCC and request an investigation.

But
Slossberg is ready for a more activist FCC on the issue.

"It
is unconscionable to punish consumers for the failure of these media companies
to come to an agreement," she wrote. "You are the agency charged with
protecting consumers. You cannot sit by any longer while average Americans are
denied the basic, simple pleasure of coming home to watch the game."

FCC
Chairman Genachowski has made a point of positioning the FCC as a consumer
agency. The FCC has an open proceeding -- dating back over a year -- in which
it suggested clarifying good faith negotiations, but not arbitration or
standstills. The chairman has taken no action on that docket and has signaled
the FCC's roles is ensuring negotiations are in good faith, rather than
engineering a particular outcome.

 

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