The Federal Communications Commission has decided not to step up its oversight of contract disputes that sometimes take free, over-the-air channels off cable systems.
Broadcast stations can demand carriage fees from cable TV operators even if the channels are otherwise available for free to consumers with an antenna. When cable TV companies and broadcasters don’t agree on a price, customers are sometimes deprived of channels.
The FCC can already intervene in contract disputes when it deems it necessary, but a lobby group for small and medium-sized cable TV providers wanted the commission to do a lot more. When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the decision to maintain the status quo last week, the American Cable Association (ACA) lobby group said it was “appalled.”