The cable industry's worst nightmare might be evolving right in front of their eyes. The FCC, slow to move, cautious when it does, is actually starting to approach the issue of retransmission and the ongoing catfight between Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) and News Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NWSA) Fox Networks, including mulling the possibility of reimbursing subscribers for missed programming.
Comcast Chairman-CEO Brian Roberts yesterday suggested that if and when the FCC ever gets around to approving the MSO's $30 billion acquisition of NBC Universal, the merged cable provider-broadcaster could be a steadying force in the retrans space.
FCC actions for now are being deliberated in secret and hardly fast enough to please Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, who urged the Commission to adopt a more aggressive stance.
"The FCC actually has fairly strong statutory authority to take action," Feld wrote. "So while (FCC Chairman) Julius Genachowski is in a bind, he can actually fix the problem. He even has a vehicle all teed up and waiting in the form of our (Public Knowledge) petition to change the retransmission consent rules."
This being a blog item and all, Feld also went off the charts a bit and, and paraphrased Delaware Republican Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell (she who denies her witchy background) that Genachowski don some "man pants" as a trade-in to his "existing arsenal (which) consists of a little toy sword, a fez and really baggy Palace Eunuch pants."
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