FCC Keeps the Faith

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Following the orders of Congress, the FCC Tuesday extended by four years a requirement that pay-TV distributors' and broadcasters negotiate in good faith when drafting contracts for cable and satellite carriage of TV stations. The move extends the good faith requirement until Jan. 1, 2010.

Extension of the good faith provision was required by the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 passed by Congress late last year.

The law's main purpose was to renew satellite providers' right to import network programming from distant markets to subscribers who don't receive acceptable signals from their local affiliates.

The FCC, also on congressional order, imposed the same bargaining obligations on pay-TV distributors as had previously been applied to broadcasters in retransmission consent negotiations. Previously the good faith obligations applied only to broadcasters .

According to the FCC, the following actions would violate good faith bargaining:
-- Refusal to negotiate.  
-- Refusal to designate a negotiator with authority to make binding contracts.
-- Refusal to meet at reasonable times and locations, or otherwise delaying negotiations unreasonably.
-- Refusal to offer more than a single, unilateral proposal. 
--Failure to respond to the other party's retransmission consent proposal.
--Forbidding the other party from entering a retransmission consent agreement with another television broadcast station or pay-TV distributor.
--Refusal to execute a written contract based the the full understanding of a retransmission consent agreement .

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