ACA President & CEO Matthew M. Polka On ACA Members' Letter To FCC Chairman Concerning Comcast-NBCU Merger Conditions
PITTSBURGH, November 29, 2010 - "Regulators have an obligation to look past Comcast and NBCU's self-serving assurances and must mitigate the obvious public interest harms of their massive media merger by imposing granite-strong conditions that are guaranteed to prevent the predictable above-market spikes in programming costs to consumers of small cable operators. Smaller providers and their customers who are threatened by this transaction cannot afford to settle any longer with conditions that may look good on paper but fail to work in practice, as was the case twice before with remedies the Federal Communications Commission imposed under both the News Corp.-DirecTV and Adelphia-Time Warner-Comcast transactions. Simply put, we need to get it right this time.
"As more than 40 ACA members, headquartered in 18 states, demonstrate in today's letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski, the government can fully expect Comcast-NBCU to use control of three categories of `must-have' television programming -- i.e., NBC TV stations, NBCU national cable networks and Comcast regional sports networks (RSNs) -- as weapons to force pay-TV providers into paying significantly higher programming fees, which will be passed along to consumers in appreciable amounts.
"Even though none of these providers competes head-to-head with Comcast, they'll still need to negotiate with a single entity for both a Comcast RSN and NBCU's suite of national cable networks. For ACA members, the default position in any dispute with Comcast-NBCU will be to pay more for all Comcast-NBCU programming, because failing to do so would mean the sudden and simultaneous withdrawal of multiple blocks of ‘must have' content that they need to remain viable as pay-TV distributors in hometown America."