FCC Strengthens Rules Covering Retransmission Consent Negotiations

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The FCC has adopted a Report and Order (R&O) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) strengthening its retransmission consent negotiation processes. The Commission has clarified that the joint negotiation of retransmission consent agreements by broadcast stations that are not commonly owned and are ranked among the top four stations (measured by audience share) constitutes a violation of the stations’ statutory duties to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith. Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs) and public interest groups had argued that joint negotiations by unaffiliated broadcasters resulted in too much bargaining power because MVPDs were negotiating under the threat of simultaneously losing two of the top four broadcast stations.  The FNPRM seeks comment on whether the FCC should modify or eliminate its 40 year old non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules.

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