FCC to amend rules for TV dispute

The Hill is reporting:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to take on the fee wars between broadcasters and pay-TV providers that have in the past resulted in TV blackouts, leaving viewers unable to access certain channels.

FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake announced the decision on Wednesday, citing the lengthy feud between Cablevision and Fox Networks that left some subscribers in the New York area without access to a few World Series games this year.

“As the African saying goes, when the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers,” Lake said.

The FCC will take a “broad look” at ways to change regulations so that retransmission consent fees — which pay-TV providers issue to broadcasters when using their content — “are set by market forces, while protecting consumers,” Lake said.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Communications subcommittee, commended the FCC for the announcement.

After floating a draft bill this year, Kerry said he will not introduce legislation to address fee disputes now that the FCC is acting on its own.

“I will work with the FCC and appreciate the agency listening and acting to foster a better dialogue and a more rational system,” he said.

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