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ABC in New York commends Barton amid growing frustration for FCC retransmission reforms

WABC-TV, the New York provider of ABC shows that could soon be pulled from Cablevision subscribers, agreed with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) that private companies should settle their so-called retransmission negotiations without the intervention of federal regulators.

The comments come amid growing frustration by paid television providers in retransmission rules at the Federal Communications Commission. Cablevision said it has refused to agree to ABC's demand of $40 million a year on top of the $200 million the cable operator already pays without any additional content.

Rebecca Campbell, president and general manager of WABC-TV, said in a statement Thursday that Barton “made clear the vital importance of market-based negotiations in preserving viewers’ interests in a competitive and diverse media marketplace.”

Senator John F. Kerry yesterday, asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to intervene in the deadlock so that the 3 million New York area Cablevision subscribers caught in the feud won’t miss out on shows such as the Oscars on Sunday.

The FCC has declined to comment on the programming dispute between Walt Disney, the parent company of ABC, and Cablevision.

But the dispute has become high-profile, with celebrities such as Howard Stern weighing in on the issue. Stern said on his show today that Cablevision couldn't survive without ABC. Barbara Walters said on her ABC show, "The View," that the dispute seems unfair. ABC has taken out a full-page add in newspapers and has a Web site called to push for their side of the dispute.

Small cable companies issued a comment Thursday, saying cash payments demanded by broadcasters hurt their businesses and trickle down to higher prices for consumers.

“There must be some limit to the broadcasters’ right to pull their signals from customers of cable and satellite operators during retransmission consent negotiations,” said Matt Polka, president of the trade group American Cable Association.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 4, 2010; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  FCC  
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