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ACA: Court Should Not Delay Or Deny Third-Party Access To Programming Contracts In Big MVPD Merger Reviews

PITTSBURGH, November 17, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement on the trade group's filing asking the federal courts to deny the programmers' request to prevent third parties from reviewing programming contracts submitted to the Federal Communications Commission as part of the FCC's review of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter transactions and the AT&T-DirecTV merger:

"ACA's view is that third-party access to these retransmission consent and cable programming agreements is essential in order to inform the FCC on whether the Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter and the AT&T-DirecTV transactions will serve the public interest or harm consumers in ways that require corrective regulatory conditions.

"The cable and broadcast programmers' claim that they are likely to prevail on the merits of their case or suffer irreparable harm is unsupported.  The FCC has permitted representatives of video distributors participating in previous merger reviews to have access to the video programming distribution agreements under protective orders.  In fact, the FCC's Second Amended Modified Joint Protective Order is far more restrictive in terms of who may access the information and the conditions of such access than any used previously.  The programmers fail to make the case why the protective orders adopted for the current merger reviews suddenly would be dangerous and impermissible.  Moreover, because the programmers have failed to present a shred of evidence that anyone allowed to review the contracts is likely to violate non-disclosure commitments required by the FCC, the likelihood of irreparable harm has not been demonstrated.

"ACA, like the FCC, insists that the public's right to participate in a license transfer or assignment proceeding is an integral and valuable part of any FCC review.  If the Court were to allow the programmers to make categories of important data and information off-limits to interested parties, it would significantly curtail the utility of public participation in the FCC's current proceedings and undermine public confidence in the government's merger review process."

About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 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 business.  For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/

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