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Document Type

Note

Publication Date

5-2012

Publication Citation

64 Federal Communications Law Journal 617 (2012)

Abstract

Under the retransmission consent regulations of the 1992 Cable Act, broadcasters and cable providers must negotiate with one another for permission to retransmit a broadcast signal over a cable system. While the majority of such negotiations are resolved amicably, there has been a growing trend of negotiations resulting in signal blackouts that harm consumers. In March 2010, cable providers filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC arguing that the current regulations are outdated and asking that the FCC alter the regulations to curb harmful negotiation tactics employed by broadcasters. Broadcasters replied that the retransmission consent scheme is working as intended and that the FCC and Congress should resist requests to get involved in the negotiations. The FCC responded with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on four possible rule changes that might solve the dispute. This Note explores the contours of the current dispute over retransmission consent regulations and examines each side's proposed solutions. This Note then recommends that the best solution to both level the playing field between the parties and also end harmful signal blackouts is a combination of both adopting some of the FCC's proposals and legislative action providing for interim carriage and mandatory arbitration mechanisms.