Commentary

FCC's Carriage Issue Non-Fix: The Emergency Meeting That Wasn't

When the Federal Communications Commission looks to intercede in free-market negotiations between a big TV station group and a major pay TV provider, you can have some eyebrow-raising.

But does that means legislative and regulatory changes are afoot? Not likely.

Sinclair Broadcast Group says it didn’t need any help from the FCC in its dealing with Dish Network. Instead, the parties announced an agreement “in principle” ending a nearly day-long blackout of 129 Sinclair stations in 79 markets.

The Dish-Sinclair snafu resolved somewhat quick, relative to other “blackouts,” which have lasted far longer. August 2013, CBS was blacked out on Time Warner Cable for an entire month affecting 3 million TV homes. Where was the emergency FCC meeting then?

We don’t know. But we know this. Increasingly TV consumers are getting tired of the games played between what they see are competing rich TV-media companies looking to gain a business hedge.

Back in 2013, Time Warner Cable get bit big time -- losing a massive 306,000 subscribers during its third quarter reporting period, in large part coming from problems with CBS. Seems that CBS won that battle. But long-term “winning” of these battles may not be a positive.

TV blackouts of all types are growing -- 145 broadcast blackouts, of any length, so far in 2015; 107 in 2014; 127 in 2013; 91 in 2012; 51 in 2011, and 12 in 2010, according the American Television Alliance, a trade group of pay TV providers.

And that’s why the FCC got involved with Dish and Sinclair-- even if it didn’t actually get involved.

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