FCC Presses Pause on Retransmission Consent ReformsJuly 14, 2016
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler announced that the FCC will not move forward with retransmission consent reforms.
The following statement can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“We’re concerned that the Chairman has decided that reform to the retransmission consent rules is unnecessary at this time. With this decision, ongoing consumer harms may persist, unless the Commission takes other steps to reform the video marketplace.
“Certainly, no particular set of rules can capture all of the ways a negotiation might break down, leading to an impasse that harms consumers. However, the record demonstrates the need for the Commission to prevent certain per se instances of bad-faith negotiation that disproportionately affect viewers, such as blocking access to online video or timing blackouts to marquee television events.
“Of course, we welcome the Chairman's determination that the FCC should continue to examine disputes case by case, for instances when the rules fall short. Unfortunately, given today's announcement, that may be far more often than should be necessary.
“Retransmission consent reform is just one of the issues facing the video marketplace. Consumers still lack sufficient video choice, the rented set-top box continues to restrict what programming viewers have access to, and various FCC rules still favor traditional pay-TV providers over online competitors. However, the Commission has recently taken steps that can help ensure that consumers can access new video choices, and we hope that after today’s decision the Commission continues to explore ways to improve video choice, accessibility, and diversity.”