Time Warner Cable this week was reported to request the FCC's help in their feud with CBS over retransmission fees, which has resulted in millions of Time Warner Cable, Dish, DirecTV and Bright House customers being unable to view CBS content on TV or online
. Despite the fact that these fee battles have grown increasingly disruptive to paying consumers
, the FCC this week stated they won't intervene in the fight because they lack the authority, and crafting new rules governing such disputes would "take too long
Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn has said the agency lacks the authority to intervene, and rewriting rules for settling such disputes would take too long to end the current disruption, according to Paul Gallant, Washington-based managing director at Guggenheim Securities LLC. Members of Congress or the FCC "are likely to issue statements urging the parties to reach agreement in the interest of the consumers who now lack access to CBS programming," Gallant said yesterday in a research note.
Such rules technically wouldn't take too long if the FCC had seriously addressed them a few years back when these fights were already at a fevered pitch. The FCC stated back in 2011
that they'd take a look at new rules, but like most things the FCC does this day, they paid empty lip service to the issue before stumbling around for a long while doing absolutely nothing.
The FCC and industry have generally struck a gentlemen's agreement that these disputes are private affairs that the government should stay out. The problem is that this stance leaves nobody standing up for consumers, who are very publicly being used as public relations pinatas.
While both content companies like CBS and cable companies like Time Warner Cable pretend their respective sides are fighting for consumers, in reality their paying customers are completely unrepresented as they face constant blackouts, are inundated with endless screen popups and obnoxious demands, and then wind up paying more for cable no matter which side of the agreement "wins."