FCC says cable operators can't nix channels during contract disputes

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The Federal Communications Commission has adjusted earlier policy to allow for distribution of independent cable TV channels to continue over cable systems even when network operators and content firms have reached an impasse in distribution negotiations.

The change means that cable TV companies can't merely drop a channel during a contract renewal fight if they don't like the terms, which would seem to take away quite a lot of a cable operator's leverage in such negotiations.

The so-called standstill order means that existing contract terms remain valid until the FCC rules on the matter. This is the latest move to ensure customers don't suffer during distribution disputes, while the FCC tries to speed up the process of dealing with such disputes.

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