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Top Ten Key Developments of 2008 - #2

ACA Filing Encourages FCC to Examine Programmers and Broadcasters Practice of Tying and Bundling

January 10, 2008

On Thursday, January 3, ACA urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt changes to existing regulations to provide independent operators with more flexibility to provide consumers with choices and better value. ACA's filing comes in response to the FCC's request for comments in its rulemaking on the retransmission consent and program access rules.

In its comments, ACA provided evidence that broadcaster and programmer behavior during carriage negotiations cause significant harm to consumers served by small and medium-sized cable providers. As a result, the ACA estimated that 30% of the channels carried on expanded basic and 45% of the channels carried on digital tiers are carried under tying or bundling arrangements imposed as conditions of access to desired channels.

ACA urged the FCC to make four adjustments to current regulations:

  • In addition to any bundling arrangement, obligate programmers and broadcasters to offer channels on a standalone basis on reasonable rates, terms and conditions
  • Prohibit programmers and broadcasters from mandating channel carriage on a specific tier or to a required percentage of subscribers
  • Prohibit price discrimination against small and medium-sized cable companies unless the difference is truly cost-based
  • Adjust the program access and retransmission complaint processes to provide meaningful relief, including continued carriage of a channel while a complaint is pending

"ACA supports moderate but meaningful changes in wholesale programming and retransmission consent practices," explained Matthew M. Polka, ACA's president and CEO. "We do not want to disrupt the programming chain, but simply want the Commission to constrain programmers and broadcasters from using their market power to deny more choices to our customers."

ACA's Comments: Program Tying
ACA's Press Release: Smaller Cable Operators Focus on More Choices for Consumers in FCC Filing

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