Radio and Television Business Report
October 21, 2010

The American Television Alliance, a group consisting of MVPDs and consumer groups, is asking the FCC to get involved in the dispute over retransmission fees between Fox/News Corp. and Cablevision. But many question whether the FCC has the power to do much.

Both FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and senior Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps have almost said as much in recent comments. Genachowski has been limited to talking to each company’s CEO and publicly criticizing them, and Copps acknowledged that the FCC has very limited authority, and has been reluctant to use what little it has.

An analyst quoted by the Washington Post said that anything the FCC does try to do would likely face problems in the court. Concept Capital’s Paul Gallant added, “It would also set a precedent of intervention that the FCC probably wishes to avoid. And as we have noted previously, should the FCC pursue a rulemaking to revise the retrans rules on an industry-wide basis, we believe that too would face a tough court fight.”

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