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Sides in “quiet period” squabble dig in

Fri, 08/15/2008 - 8:15am
Brian Santo

The boards of directors of the affiliate organizations of the four major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – have voted to support the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) plan for a month-long “quiet period” on retransmission negotiations.

The proposed quiet period would cover the time leading up to, and following, the digital transition. The basic idea is to avoid disputes over retransmission rights that might add another disruption of service beyond the digital transition itself.

The cable industry, joined by the Dish Network, desires a longer ceasefire, with various counterproposals that range from 2.5 months to six months or more.

The results of the votes of the network affiliates were virtually obligatory, and therefore expected, but they indicate the two sides are getting entrenched in their positions on the length of the so-called quiet period.

That may encourage the FCC to play referee, which the American Cable Association has explicitly asked for. The FCC has no direct authority to adjudicate retransmission issues, but it does have relatively broad authority with regard to the digital transition.

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