Retrans uh-oh: News Corp. beefs up Washington crew

News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), quite likely the most aggressive of all broadcasters in trying to wring more from retransmission fees for its Fox Networks, has apparently seen the writing on the marble walls in Washington, D.C. and is beefing up its "government affairs" operations.

Kathy Ramsey is joining the company as vice president of government affairs and Kris Jones comes aboard as director of government affairs while Bill Guidera and David Fares have been promoted to senior vice presidents. Ramsey and Smith come from NAB.

It's probable that News Corp. is hunkering down for what promises to be a bitter battle with pay TV service providers across all formats who are demanding that the government step in and do something, anything, about prolonged retransmission battles.

Also on the new employees' agenda will no doubt be an ongoing battle between the broadcasters and the FCC over control of spectrum the broadcasters claim they need and the FCC wants for other wireless players. Most recent reports are that the FCC could auction that spectrum in the next two years contingent on broadcasters getting part of the proceeds. That, too, would have an impact on cable because without the spectrum broadcasters would be more dependent on pay TV service providers for signal carriage.

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