FCC ready to look at retransmission disputes

Even though its members admit their hands may be tied, the FCC is willing to at least take a look at the politically charged subject of retransmission blackouts. And, strange as this might seem, the Commission might be leaning in favor of cable.

"The cash demands of broadcasters are rising faster than the distributors' willingness to pay, and the result has been a growing number of cliffhanger negotiations--and some that have fallen off the cliff," said William Lake, chief of the FCC's Media Bureau. "As the African saying goes, when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."

As the FierceCable saying goes, when broadcasters are threatened, they snipe back. Gordon Smith, the NAB's chief exec, said any FCC involvement with "private business negotiations that have a 99 percent success rate only serves to embolden pay TV companies."

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