Retransmission Consent and Other Federal Rules Affecting Programmer-Distributor Negotiations: Issues for Congress [July 9, 2007] [open pdf - 410KB]
From the Summary: "When conflicts arise between a programmer (a broadcaster or a cable network owner) and a multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD, usually a cable or satellite operator) about the carriage of particular video programming, the price for that programming, or the tier on which the programming is to be offered to the end user, many consumers can be affected. Recently there have been several incidents in which a negotiating impasse between a programmer and a distributor has resulted in the programmer refusing to allow the MVPD to carry, or the MVPD choosing not to carry, a program network. While contractual terms, conditions, and rates are determined by private negotiations, they are strongly affected by a number of federal statutory provisions and regulatory requirements, including the statutory retransmission consent and must-carry rules, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] program exclusivity rules, local-into-local and distant signal provisions in satellite laws, copyright law provisions relating to cable and satellite, statutory commercial leased access requirements and program carriage and nondiscriminatory access provisions, and the FCC's media ownership rules. […] At the same time, however, as a result of consolidation and clustering in the cable industry there are a few very large cable companies, which primarily serve major markets, as well as the two national satellite operators, that appear to have sufficient market strength to be able to withstand many of the demands of the programmers with must-have programming and to place small independent programmers at a negotiating disadvantage. This report will be updated as warranted. For a condensed version of this report, see CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RL34079."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34078