Updating Media Rules to Better Serve Customers in Today’s Video Marketplace

While summer might be hiatus for some television programs, here at the Commission we’ve been difficult at work to ensure a more competitive video clip marketplace for American consumers.

In December of last year, Our elected representatives passed bipartisan legislation known as the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014, which usually instructs and permits the Commission payment to modernize rules regarding the satellite television, cable, and broadcast television markets. Today, I am circulating a bundle of orders and proposals that accomplish this mandate to better reflect today’s media marketplace and further protect the general public interest.

Our function under the STELAR legislation will achieve two primary pro-consumer ends. Initial, pursuant to STELAR requirements, we all adopt a process by which parties might seek modification of a TV station’s local television market to add or even delete communities in order to better reveal market realities. This process has been in place for cable since 1992, which order will extend that process to the satellite market, but will now also allow local governments, and also broadcasters and satellite providers, to find changes to markets for purposes of satellite carriage. Where satellite companies have the technical ability to carry the station, and where broadcasters are prepared to be carried, the market modification process may, in some instances, address the problem of “orphan counties” and allow consumers to receive previously unavailable in-state broadcast programming, including news, public affairs, and sports.

I am furthermore circulating a notice of suggested rulemaking (NPRM) to review the so-called “totality of the circumstances test” for good faith negotiations over retransmission of broadcast TV signals. Such negotiations have sometimes led to stand-offs and temporary blackouts for Pay TELEVISION customers. The Communications Act demands broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) – cable companies and satellite providers – to negotiate retransmission consent “in great faith. ” The Commission has implemented this requirement through a two-part framework for evaluating good faith in this context. First, the Commission payment has established a list of objective good faith negotiation standards, the violation of which is considered a per se breach of the statutory obligation to negotiate in great faith. Second, even if the specific per se standards are met, the Commission might consider whether, based on the totality from the circumstances, a party has failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith. The NPRM currently before the Commission payment undertakes a robust examination of practices used by parties in retransmission consent negotiations, as required by Congress. The goal of the proposed rulemaking is to ensure that these negotiations are conducted fairly and in a way that protects customers.

Beyond our STELAR-required actions, my colleagues and I will certainly consider several additional items that guard consumers and modernize media plans in other ways.

Initial, we will update the Contest Guideline for the Internet age, allowing broadcasters to reveal the material terms of station-run contests online instead of, or in addition to, over the air. Commissioner O’Rielly required this modernization, and the NPRM obtained unanimous support.

We are also putting forth an order that proposes elimination of obsolete “exclusivity rules. ” These guidelines prevent an MVPD from providing subscribers an out-of-market broadcast train station, for example , when a retransmission consent challenge results in a local station being lowered from carriage. In this item, the particular Commission takes its thumb off the weighing scales and leaves the scope of such exclusivity to be decided from the parties, as we did in the Sports Blackout Order last year. In so doing, the particular Commission would take 50-year outdated rules off our books which have been rendered unnecessary by today’s marketplace.

I will also suggest adoption of several proposals discussed in the 2013 AM Radio Revitalization NPRM, which we believe will certainly further enhance the viability of the ARE broadcast service, and ask about further suggested updates by way of an FNPRM and NOI. I look forward to focusing on this issue, launched by then-Acting Chairwoman Clyburn and championed by Office Pai, and hope that tv producers will participate extensively. This comprehensive set of actions modernize our guidelines to keep them in line with the public interest in an ever-changing marketplace, and will assist to ensure the continued vitality of AM radio.

These actions work to bring governance current with the practical realities of today’s media landscape and will ensure that customers remain well-served by our press policies.

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