Thursday, August 13, 2015

TV Broadcasters Could Lose Exclusivity Rules

Broadcasters haven’t had an easy time under the Tom Wheeler Federal Communications Commission, and now the chairman is proposing eliminating the exclusivity rules that have served as a backstop for TV localism in retransmission consent disputes.

According to, the network non-duplication and syndication exclusivity rules codify a TV station’s sole right to carry a network or syndicated TV program in its local market. The rules prevent a pay TV provider from carrying out-of-market TV stations that duplicate the programming of the local outlet. Pay TV providers have argued that puts them at a distinct disadvantage when negotiating carriage deals with TV stations that carry “must have” content.

Tom Wheeler
In a blog post, Wheeler called the rules “outdated,” but the National Association of Broadcasters, which said it would oppose the order, called the rules the “lynchpin of the local broadcast business model.”

“The order currently circulating at the commission imposing changes to these rules would threaten the vibrancy of our uniquely free and local broadcast system,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the NAB.

“It is curious that the FCC keeps relying on the rationale that it is taking such pro pay-TV actions because the rules are decades-old, but refuses to even review or remove broadcast ownership rules that were imposed under market circumstances that clearly no longer exist.”

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