ATVA: Fox Hardball Needs Softening

FCC has proposed clarification on meaning of good-faith bargaining

The American Television Alliance says that Fox's affiliation
are the latest evidence that the retransmission
consent system needs to be reformed.

Fox renewed some agreements, but dropped some others,
including in markets where it was negotiating with the incumbent affiliate
over a share of retrans bucks, ATVA pointed out.

The FCC has proposed taking a number of steps to clarify
what bargaining in good faith means over retransmission consent fees means,
which it is empowered to ensure. But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has
said beyond that the commission's power is limited absent new marching orders
from Congress and that the FCC doesn't want to get into the middle of
marketplace negotiations.

Cable operators argue that with must-carry rules and
exclusivity rules--the latter which the FCC is at least contemplating getting
rid of--the government already has a thumb on the scale.

"First the broadcast networks black out viewers on
their owned stations as a negotiating ploy in retransmission consent
negotiations with pay TV providers. Now they are bullying their affiliates by
withholding programming if the affiliate doesn't pay up more of their retrans
revenue," said ATVA.

The American Television Alliance comprises cable nets, satellite companies telcos, and others pushing for major retrans reform at the FCC.

ATVA members include Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, as well as a host of others including Charter, Cablevision, Dish, Discovery, AT&T, the American Cable Association and others.