ACA to FCC: Block Blackouts, Require True-Ups

Suggests since FCC rules prevent blackouts during broadcaster sweeps, it should do so more broadly for consumers
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American Cable Association President Matthew
Polka Thursday asked the FCC to adopt a rule
mandating carriage during retrans impasses, saying the commission prevents
blackouts that disadvantage broadcasters, so it should certainly do so when
they hurt consumers.

In a letter to FCC
Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, ACA President Matthew Polka pointed out that
commission rules prohibit retrans blackouts during sweeps periods (when
broadcast ad rates are set), "yet there are no comparable rules that
protect consumers from losing access to broadcast signals during periods of time
particularly important to them, such as immediately before and during marquee
broadcast events."

He proposed what he
said was a narrowly tailored solution, which is that the FCC adopt "a rule
mandating that broadcasters and MVPDs continue to offer a broadcast station's
signal to consumers after an existing retransmission consent agreement expires
and while the terms of a new agreement are pending resolution of a dispute.
Under this proposed rule, the parties' existing retransmission consent agreement
would automatically be extended past its expiration date, and an MVPD would
continue to pay the broadcaster for retransmission consent rights per such
contract."

When a deal is done,
the price would apply retroactively, with a "true-up" to the price if
necessary.

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