FCC lays out rules for retransmission consent overhaul

As expected, in a unanimous vote, the FCC took the first steps to revamp--if not rehaul--the contentious retransmission consent process. At the same time it issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) the Commission admitted it "doesn't have the authority to require broadcast television stations to provide their signals to pay TV providers or require binding arbitration."

At the very least, the FCC wants the nonsense to stop.

"It's time to take a fresh look and explore whether there are measures we can take to allow the market-based process contemplated by the retransmission consent laws to operate more smoothly and service consumers and the marketplace," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a prepared statement.

Without making it clear what, if anything, the Commission can do to stop bad behavior among combatants, Genachowski made it clear he expects programmers and service providers to behave.

"No one should interpret our initiation of this proceeding as a signal--or an excuse--to drag their feet on reaching retransmission consent agreements," Genachowski added. "Foot dragging or any bad-faith conduct won't be tolerated under our existing rules or any new rules we adopt in this proceeding."

For more:
- the FCC site has all the details

Related articles:
FCC to vote on retransmission consent reforms in March
FCC's McDowell: Don't expect big changes in retrans stance