Senate Commerce Committee to Hold Retrans Hearing Nov. 17

Cablevision, News Corp. among parties Communiations Subcommittee expected to invite
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As
expected, the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee
will hold a hearing Nov. 17 on the retransmission consent regime, a
committee source
confirmed Friday. B&C had reported Oct. 19 that Kerry was
looking at holding a hearing that week.

Committee
Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) is teeing up legislation, a discussion
draft of which he sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. That came in
the
midst of the Fox/Cablevision retrans fight.

Calling
it a "broken system," Kerry had said the legislation would try to fix
the two-party system, in this case negotiating parties, for the sake of a
third party: consumers. As he telegraphed in a statement following Fox
and Cablevision's failure to come to terms Oct. 15,

the bill would keep signals on the air while the FCC evaluates both
parties and recommends, or doesn't recommend, binding arbitration,
during which carriage would also continue.

According
to various sources, among the parties the committee is expected to
invite are representatives of Cablevision and News Corp., the central
parties
in the most recent and highest-profile retrans impasse, and FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has told Kerry he supports a
congressional review of retransmission consent. "Under the present
system, the FCC has very few tools with which to protect consumers'
interests in the retransmission consent process," Genachowski told Kerry
in a letter Oct. 29.

Another
possible witness would be a representative of Time Warner Cable. TWC
has been one of the leading voices for retrans reform via the American
Television
Alliance

and a petition to the FCC to change the retrans rules, including
mandating outside arbitration and keeping stations on the air during
retrans disputes.

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