PITTSBURGH, May 16, 2008—Filing formal reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today, the American Cable Association (ACA) continued its opposition to an effort by News Corp. to back out of retransmission consent and regional sports network conditions established by the FCC as part of News Corp.’s purchase of DIRECTV in 2004. News Corp., which sold its holdings in DIRECTV in 2008, has filed a petition of modification with the FCC claiming that the conditions should no longer apply. The terms of the Order setting the conditions are not set to expire until 2010.
ACA’s Opposition filed today expands on its previous filing calling attention to News Corp.’s. recent claims of “big gains” from its broadcast and cable networks. As stated in the filing, “These public statements eliminate any shred of credibility to the Petition’s claims that News Corp., and the public interest, would somehow suffer from a ’competitive disadvantage‘ that would befall News Corp. if the conditions were not terminated early.”
“Throughout this process, News Corp. has manipulated the Commission and ignored the public interest,” said ACA President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew M. Polka. “Petitioning the Commission for relief from conditions it alleges are restrictive while simultaneously reporting to Wall Street ’big gains‘ from its television stations and cable networks defies logic. The conditions set in 2004 serve the public good, specifically for those communities served by small and medium-sized cable systems. Repealing them prematurely would reward News Corp. for its abuse of the process, enabling it to ignore the public good while continuing to collect ’big gains.’”
If the agreed-upon conditions for News Corp. were lifted, small cable operators and their customers will be forced to pay more money for the same content, because News Corp. will exercise unconstrained market power over smaller distributors – again, said ACA. The public will also face the risk of disruption in service because News Corp. would be permitted to withdraw broadcast channels and regional sports networks to squeeze higher license fees.
About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies that provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their businesses. For more information, visit www.americancable.org.
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