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FCC Strengthens Retransmission Consent Rules

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Released: March 31, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

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Washington, D. C. 20554

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



March 31, 2014
Janice Wise (202) 418-8165


New rule will help curtail a practice that has put upward pressure on cable costs

Washington, D.C.

– The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Report and Order that
strengthens its rules governing retransmission consent negotiations. This Order will help curtail a
practice that has put upward pressure on cable and Direct Broadcast Satellite programming costs as well
as prices to consumers.
The Communications Act requires cable systems and other pay television services to obtain a broadcast
television station’s retransmission consent before carrying the station’s signal. The Act also requires
broadcasters and pay television service providers to negotiate retransmission consent agreements in good
Today’s Order prohibits a television broadcast station ranked among the top four stations (as measured by
audience share) from negotiating retransmission consent jointly with another top four station if the
stations are not commonly owned and serve the same geographic market. Joint negotiation by these
stations leads to higher retransmission consent fees because the practice reduces competition between the
stations. Additionally, the threat of losing the programming of two or more top four stations at the same
time gives the stations undue bargaining leverage in negotiations with Multichannel Video Program
Distributors. To target collusive behavior effectively, the Order also defines joint negotiations.
Congress passed retransmission consent legislation over 20 years ago. Since that time, there have been
significant changes in the video marketplace. The FCC initiated this proceeding to respond to these
changes and facilitate the fair and effective completion of retransmission consent negotiations to the
ultimate benefit of consumers.
Action by the Commission March 31, 2014, by Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC
14-29). Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly with Chairman
Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly issuing statements.
Today’s action also includes adoption of a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that asks whether to
eliminate or modify the Commission’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules. These
rules help broadcast television stations to be the exclusive distributor of network or syndicated
programming within a certain geographic area.

For further information, contact Raelynn Remy, Diana Sokolow or Kathy Berthot (202-418-2120;;; Press contact: Janice Wise
For news and information about the FCC, please visit

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