FCC to vote on retransmission consent reforms in March

It won't be the end of retransmission disputes. It might not even be the beginning of the end of the troublesome fights between programmers and service providers. But at least when it meets in March the FCC will stick its hands into one of the nastiest bits of business affecting consumers.

According to Multichannel News, sources close to the situation say that the federal agency will take a partway approach to the matter: delivering definition on good-faith bargaining and maybe even going so far as to delineate boundaries where bargaining guidelines have been crossed.

Retrans is one of the hotter issues this year, especially as a number of consent agreements come up for renewal at the end of the year. Broadcasters, who have been using blackouts as leverage to get more money from service providers, are loath to see any changes in the process. Service providers, including a group spearheaded by Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI), want the government to step in and provide some relief, claiming that increasingly high retrans fees are being pushed onto the backs of already angry consumers.

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