Broadcasting and Cable
October 31, 2010
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Sunday he was “happy and relieved” that Cablevision and Fox had struck a carriage deal Saturday, but that he still thought the government needs to step in to protect consumers.
Kerry has proposed legislation to that effect, and signaled that he still thinks it is necessary. While he said that media interests have every right to play hardball, he also suggested that government needed to step in anyway to protect consumers from being collateral damage in what he called “frequent games of high stakes chicken.”
Saying he didn’t think it was in anyone’s interest to have such retrans stalemates play out regularly, Kerry suggested that, “at a minimum, Congress can bring greater transparency to this process and empower consumers with more information, and work to disincentivize high stakes conflict.” Cablevision lost access to Fox TV station signals for two weeks during the latest such standoff.
“What I know is that this system is broken, and I think we’re all better off if we have a dialogue about systemic reform and modernizing the law rather than just jumping into the fray and getting involved in each conflict in isolation,” Kerry said, adding that he would work with the FCC and stakeholders on a bill.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has expressed his own frustration with the consumer fallout from the Fox/Cablevision impasse, Friday said he agreed with Kerry that it was time for Congress to take a look at the retrans regime.