While everyone at The Cable Show in Los Angeles was most interested in how FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would deal with Internet regulation, a bubbling undercurrent of concern roiled about how the federal agency would deal with the increasingly sticky wicket of broadcast retransmission.
The answer is: "There have been enough issues raised. It's necessary for us to review the framework and ask if there are ways to improve it," said Genachowski.
Retransmission, always a local problem, jumped into the national spotlight when Disney threatened to pull its ABC-owned station off Cablevision Systems in New York, sending subscribers scrambling for off-air antennas to watch the Academy Awards. The issue was resolved at the last minute, but the flares illuminating the problem had been launched. Adding to the drama, Comcast, as a cable provider, may soon also be a broadcaster, sitting in the "schizophrenic" (as CEO Brian Roberts described it) position of negotiating retransmission fees with its own broadcast network as well as negotiating with its fellow cable operators
"It seems clear that retransmission fees are going to be paid," said Roberts, during a keynote brunch at The Cable Show. Now, at least according to Genachowski, the FCC will look and see how, when and how much those fees are.
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