Cable operators are asking the Federal Communications Commission to repeal the network non-duplication rule for network affiliates that seek compensation from cablers via “retransmission consent.”The network non-duplication rule grants network affils the right to insist on blackouts of duplicated network programming on more distant stations. NCTA, in a filing this week with the FCC, said that if a broadcaster opts to negotiate for retrans payments from cable operators, the station must give up the right to blackout competing signals from the same network. “Otherwise, a local network affiliate … can ensure that no network programming is available to cable subscribers,” said NCTA. Under the new cable law passed last year, broadcasters have the option of negotiating payments from cablers for carriage of the local signal, or of forcing simple carriage of the station via “must-carry.” NCTA’s filing notes that broadcasters selecting retrans payments may withhold their signal from the cable operator as ultimate punishment if negotiations between the two parties break down. If a signal is withheld, it’s necessary to ensure that a duplicated signal from the same network is still available to cable viewers, per NCTA.
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