Retransmission consent

The Communications Act prohibits cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors from retransmitting commercial television, low power television and radio broadcast signals without first obtaining the broadcaster's consent. This permission is commonly referred to as "retransmission consent" and may involve some compensation from the cable company to the broadcaster for the use of the signal. Alternately, local commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations may require a cable operator that serves the same market as the broadcaster to carry its signal. A demand for carriage is commonly referred to as "must-carry." If the broadcast station asserts its must-carry rights, the broadcaster cannot demand compensation from the cable operator. While retransmission consent and must-carry are distinct and function separately, they are related in that commercial broadcasters are required to choose once every three years, on a system-by-system basis, whether to obtain carriage or continue carriage by choosing between must carry and retransmission consent. (See

Sinclair Agrees to Pay $48 Million Civil Penalty; FCC Penalty Will Be Largest Ever Paid by a Broadcaster

The Federal Communications Commission announced the largest civil penalty involving a broadcaster in the agency’s 86-year history. Specifically, Sinclair Broadcasting Group has agreed to pay a $48 million civil penalty and abide by a strict compliance plan in order to close three open investigations. This penalty is twice the prior record for a broadcaster, which was the $24 million paid by Univision in 2007.

FCC Adopts Items Before Tele-Meeting

The following items have been adopted by the Federal Communications Commission and deleted from the list of items scheduled for consideration at the March 31, 2020 Open Meeting. 

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for March 2020 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the March Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 2020:

Robocall Relief Springs Forward

 At our March meeting, the Federal Communications Commission will therefore vote on new rules requiring implementation of STIR/SHAKEN by June 30, 2021, a deadline set forth in the TRACED Act, which was recently passed by Congress. Under my proposal, the FCC would also seek public input on additional measures to combat spoofed robocalls, including other measures to implement the TRACED Act.

STELAR to Sunset Dec. 31

The Senate passed the Television Viewer Protection Act (TVPA) and the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019, two bills that orginated in the House.

A Small Number, A Big Difference

The last Federal Communications Commission meeting of 2019, on December 12, features more than one item that could receive top billing in an ordinary month. The FCC will consider:

House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Advances 9 Bills

The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology advanced nine bills in a markup session Nov 14. Eight of the bills moved with little controversey:

FCC Finds for AT&T in Retransmission Negotiation Complaint

The Federal Communications Commission has upheld an AT&T complaint against a number of TV station groups for failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, a move pay-TV operators are hoping adds fuel to their argument for renewal of the satellite compulsory license law that includes that good faith mandate. The FCC didn't fine the stations, but left that big stick in sight, saying it reserved the right to take future enforcement actions, including potential fines or forfeitures (likely levied if the stations did not negotiate in good faith going forward). The complaints wer

Senator Wicker Introduces STELAR Renewal

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) has introduced a clean renewal of the STELAR Act with yet another name, the Satellite Television Access Reauthorization (STAR) Act. STELAR, and if it passes, STAR, provides for a compulsory license allowing satellite operators--Dish and DirecTV--to import distant network affiliated TV station signals to markets that lack them.

Networks Sue to Stop Streaming Service Offering Free TV Feeds

The four major broadcast networks have filed a suit in federal court to shut down Locast, a nonprofit streaming service funded in part by AT&T and founded by a Dish Network lobbyist that offers their feeds to subscribers for no charge. CBS, Disney's ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Fox argue that Locast is retransmitting the signals of their local TV stations without permission, in violation of copyright law.