Time Warner Cable and other cable operators plan to sign a petition urging regulators to step in the next time there is a fee dispute with content providers in order to prevent stations from going dark as happened this past weekend during the Oscars. In January, Cablevision subscribers also spent three weeks without the Food Network and HGTV due to a dispute with Scripps. Fox and Time Warner also butted heads last year, and as additional contracts expire, more disagreements are expected.
Cablevision, Verizon, DirecTV, and The American Cable Association will also sign the petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In 2007, the FCC said it didn't have the authority to require binding arbitration in a fee dispute between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Mediacom. Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a Democrat, and Ted Stevens of Alaska, a Republican, disagreed and wrote in a letter to the agency that it does have the right to arbitrate in retransmission disputes...
“The recurring threats of blackouts, high-stakes public ‘showdown' negotiations, and recent economic analyses have all confirmed what programming distributors have known for years: the retransmission consent regime is broken,” Time Warner Cable said in the statement.
Broadcasters have said stations deserve compensation for supplying TV's most-watched shows… In the past, the networks traded those rights to gain distribution for new cable channels, like Disney's ESPN2, or higher fees for their existing cable networks.