Fox-Dish cage match stirs retransmission foes to action

The ongoing (at least when this was written) war between Fox Networks and Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) has left consumers in the middle and launched flares spotlighting the need for retransmission reform, according to groups formed to protect TV viewers. Unable to reach agreement on how much Fox's content is worth, Dish lost the right to broadcast popular Fox channels such as FX, National Geographic and 19 regional sports networks.

Fox, meanwhile, has upped the ante by threatening to pull even its local affiliate stations when that retrans contract expires Nov. 1. Coming up next, is a pending agreement between Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) and Fox.

All of this rancor has stirred up groups such as the American Television Alliance and the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance which are again urging the FCC to do something about retrans battles that in the end put "consumers in the middle of a business dispute," the ATA said in a statement. This, the group added, is "the same tactic broadcast networks are using in retransmission negotiations with pay TV providers."

The FCC has been considering some retrans modifications for months but so far has taken no action.

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