FCC wants public comment on broadcaster-cable fee brouhaha

For what it's worth--or ever will be worth--the FCC has asked the public to make known its thoughts on the ongoing and increasingly ugly fee disputes between cable operators and broadcasters.

An eclectic group of cable, satellite and telco service providers, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon, Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable, but noticeably missing Comcast, have asked the FCC to rewrite retransmission consent rules so broadcasters can't pull programming from cable systems as a negotiating ploy. That almost happened until Disney at the last minute cut a deal with Cablevision and restored its WABC signal in time for the Academy Awards broadcast.

The NAB, of course, said this is unnecessary and that there's nothing wrong with, as EVP Dennis Wharton called it, getting "modest compensation from pay TV providers" to sustain the broadcast business model. Public comments on whether the FCC should revisit and/or revise the rules must be submitted to the Commission by electronic or snail mail by May 4.

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