National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith is warning that the NFL's Super Bowl, as well as other high-profile sporting events, could move from free broadcast TV to pay-TV and pay-per-view options is the Federal Communications Commission decides to involve itself in future retransmission discussions, like the recent dispute between Fox and Cablevison.
That dispute left millions of Cablevision customers in the New York metropolitan region without Giants football games and some of the baseball playoffs, the start of the World Series, as well as hit Fox shows like Glee after Fox blocked the cable operator's access to its signal during contentious negotiations.
The FCC was pressed by multiple factions to get involved in the talks, primarily by some politicians and by Cablevision management who sought to force Fox parent News Corp. into a deal.
While the FCC kept those talks at arms length, reports say it has decided to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address retransmission negotiations, specifically focusing on better defining "good faith negotiation," which were an issue during the Fox/Cablevision fight.
The NAB's Smith says that could force broadcasters to change their current aproach to events like the Super Bowl, Olympics and more.
"NAB strongly endorses educating consumers with the multiple options available to them in the exceedingly rare instance when a retransmission-consent dispute arises, including the antenna TV option," said Smith. "In the final analysis, injecting Washington into private business negotiations that have a 99 percent success rate only serves to embolden pay-TV companies. If the pay-TV giants succeed, there will be further migration of premiere sporting events like the Super Bowl away from free TV, and a reduction in financial resources that sustain quality foreign language programming, local news and entertainment to a growing audience of more than 30 million Americans who rely exclusively on over-the-air television."
- see this release
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