Leading Senator Pushes Against FCC Exclusivity Plan

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who may well become the Senate Democrat Leader in the next Congress, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week urging him to reverse course on a move to eliminate network non­duplication and syndication exclusivity rules.  These rules, which help protect the right of broadcasters to enforce programming contracts without being undercut by cable providers, are important to many television broadcasters.  Senator Schumer, the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee and a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pointed out that they are part of “a broad, complicated regulatory system” and should not be addressed alone.  Indeed, he noted that those rules are intertwined with the compulsory copyright license giving pay-TV providers general access to broadcast content.  Senator Schumer stated that a new look at these rules “must be comprehensive, and must include a broad, public dialogue with Congress and all the relevant stakeholders.”  He added, “It is not appropriate or consistent with Congressional intent for the Commission to unilaterally disrupt one aspect of the current regulatory and statutory regime outside of the context of that broader debate.”  While Chairman Wheeler would like to advance this rule repeal, it is clear that there is resistance from influential voices in Congress and, likely, concern among the other four Commissioners.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: October 9, 2015

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