Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler convened an emergency meeting with Dish and Sinclair Broadcast Group to “get to the bottom” of the blackout affecting 5 million consumers.
After failing to come to a new retransmission consent agreement, 129 Sinclair stations in 79 markets went dark on Dish Tuesday.
In response to the complaint filed by Dish requesting injunctive relieve, Wheeler directed the media bureau to convene an emergency meeting to bring back the local stations on Dish. Both parties have until midnight Wednesday to file their views.
“The public interest is the Commission’s responsibility,” Wheeler said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by while millions of consumers in 79 markets across the country are being denied access to local programming. The commission will always act within the scope of its authority if it emerges that improper conduct is preventing a commercial resolution of the dispute.”
The FCC recently began a Congressionally-mandated rule making to review what constitutes “good faith” negotiations in the retransmission consent process. But Wheeler isn’t waiting to act.
“The facts surrounding this dispute inform our findings in that proceeding, but we will not wait to act on behalf of consumers,” Wheeler added.