1/31/2012 4:00 PM
Federal regulations require that retransmission consent negotiations be conducted in "good faith." Whatever that means. The feds aren't sure either, so they're seeking feedback on what constitutes good-faith negotiations.
Since 1992, it's boiled down to showing up on the playground on time and taking turns on the monkey bars. Times have changed in 20 years. Internet dating represents the new monkey bars of Darwinian determinism. Retransmission fights increasingly reflect this. For example, the following is a verbatim transcript of instant messages between a small cable operator and a spurned broadcaster.
Cable Operator: Do you want to meet for coffee?
Broadcaster: How about a chocolate frappuccino mocha latte instead?
Cable Operator: That sounds a little on the rich side. Let me get back to you on that.
Broadcaster: OK, thanks.
Broadcaster: Hey, you know what, coffee's fine. When do you want to meet?
Broadcaster: Hello? Hello?
Cable Operator: Look, I'm having coffee with someone else.
Broadcaster: Noooo... You promised me first!
Cable Operator: No, I didn't.
Broadcaster: Yes, you did!
Cable Operator: Did not.
And so they take their fight to the authorities with the same earnestness that a six-year-old will say their sister just hit them, having left out the part about calling her "moose breath."
I think it's time the Federal Communications Commission did away with the concept of "good-faith" negotiations altogether. I think it should be replaced with the venerable "cage match," where the stalemated parties' attorneys meet in a chain-link enclosure, stripped down to their spandex tights and leather chaps. When the bell rings, each one starts screaming out their relevant legal points while executing facebreakers, chokeslams, cobra clutches and diving elbow drops on each other. A) Cage match negotiations would be much more easily decided, and B) the FCC could generate revenue from them by selling tickets and broadcast rights.
Problem solved. Glad to help.