I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
The Commission should deny News Corp.’s Petition for Modification (“Petition”) based on the following:
For these reasons, the Commission should deny the Petition and maintain the News Corp./DirecTV conditions for their full term. If the Commission does not summarily deny the Petition for the above reasons, it should defer any decision until it completes its current program access rulemaking (“Program Access FNPRM”).1 In that proceeding, the Commission and others have raised questions whether similar constraints should be imposed on the exercise of market power in a broader range of programming and retransmission consent transactions. To avoid substantial disruption to the marketplace from repeatedly altering the terms of transacting with Fox, the Commission should wait until concluding the Program Access FNPRM, then consider the Petition if necessary.
The American Cable Association. ACA represents nearly 1,100 independent cable businesses serving nearly 8 million cable subscribers primarily in smaller markets and rural areas. ACA member systems are located in all 50 states, and in virtually every congressional district. ACA members range from family-run cable businesses serving a single town to multiple system operators that focus on smaller systems and smaller markets. About half of ACA’s members serve less than 1,000 subscribers. All ACA members face the challenges of building, operating, and upgrading broadband networks in lower density markets.
ACA members share a vital interest in this proceeding. ACA members report that the News Corp. conditions have brought a measure of stability to Fox-affiliated retransmission consent and RSN renewals. This has benefited consumers by maintaining access to “must have” programming and avoiding disruption of customer viewing patterns. Withdrawal of these conditions place small and medium-sized cable companies and the consumers they serve at serious risk.
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