America's new pastime: messing with programming access

Ironically, America's so-called pastime, baseball, may have been eclipsed by a new one: messing with access to watch baseball on television. The Cablevision (NYSE: CVC)- News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) slugfest has set the stage for what could be a bigger, more active movement within the government to prevent future station blackouts.

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, whose constituents were truly affected by the Fox programming blackout on Cablevision systems, has joined Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose constituents were not, in supporting reform legislation to prevent future such blackouts.

"The FCC has made it clear that it needs tools to protect consumers in these disputes," Lautenberg said in a statement. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski agreed because, he said, the FCC's hands are tied. The time has come, he said, "for Congress to revisit the current retransmission law and assess whether changes in the marketplace call for new tools to strike the appropriate balance of private negotiations and consumer protection."

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