On March 9, 2010, a coalition of 14 cable companies, other multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs), trade associations and public interest groups filed a Petition for Rulemaking requesting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) amend and supplement its regulations governing retransmission consent. Specifically, the Petition proposes the following reforms to the retransmission consent rules:

  • Creating one or more dispute resolution mechanisms (e.g., compulsory arbitration, expert tribunal or similar mechanisms), which would be triggered when retransmission consent negotiations between a broadcaster and an MVPD have broken down and the parties cannot reach agreement on price or other terms of conditions of carriage, even in the absence of a showing that a broadcaster has not acted in "good faith" pursuant to Section 325 of the Communications Act;
  • Establishing a formal process to ensure interim carriage based on the terms of an expiring retransmission consent agreement in two situations: (i) while an MVPD continues to negotiate in good faith towards a retransmission consent agreement; and (ii) while a dispute resolution proceeding is pending; and
  • Amending the FCC's rules to make it a per se violation of the duty to negotiate in good faith if a broadcaster conditions consent to carry its broadcast signal on the carriage of other programming services.

Comments to the Petition are due by April 19, 2010, and reply comments are due by May 4, 2010.

A link to the Petition for Rulemaking can be found here, and a link to the FCC Public Notice can be found here.