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As Sinclair and Time Warner Cable Finalize New Deal, FCC Plans to Examine Retrans Rules

Sinclair Broadcasting and Time Warner Cable reached a retrans deal on Saturday, narrowly avoiding a promised blackout.

Sinclair said in a statement that the two companies have worked out the basics of a new deal and that their current agreement would remain in effect until February 21 while they finalize the specifics.

The Sinclair-TWC feud is just the latest in a rash of retrans spats that have left viewers worried that their favorite local channels would go dark.  Now The New York Times is reporting that the FCC is set to revisit the rules surrounding the relationship between local stations and cable/satellite service providers:

F.C.C. officials have said they want to ensure that consumers are protected when companies clash over the fees paid to stations for the right to retransmit programming. Prominent blackouts–like the one that denied Fox programming to Cablevision customers for two weeks last year–have focused attention on the issue.

The FCC’s examination of potential rule changes is likely to spur on a debate larger than those held regionally between stations and cable operators.

Supporters and opponents of reform alike seized on the Time Warner Cable-Sinclair deal to make their next case–the federal case.

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