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FCC Tees Up Program-Access Review

Some Aspects of Pro-Competition Rules Could Lapse


By Ted Hearn

Washington, D.C.- The Federal Communications Commission is making plans to review its program-access rules, which generally require cable-system operators to sell their satellite-delivered networks to DirecTV, EchoStar Communications and other competing pay TV providers, a top aide to FCC chairman Kevin Martin said last week.

In the boldest possible outcome, the FCC could let some key rules expire after October 2007 so that, for example, Time Warner Cable wouldn't have to share CNN or HBO with its direct-broadcast satellite rivals.

The ability to withhold programming gives the owner leverage to demand license fees higher than otherwise allowable under FCC rules....

.... etc .....

Getting With the Program

Key moments in the development of the program-access rules:

- First move (1992): Congress forces cable to sell satellite-delivered networks to pay-TV rivals, hoping to spur satellite TV competition.
- Five more years (2002): FCC extends rules until Oct. 2007
- Rupert responds (2003): Murdoch's News Corp. agrees to comply with rules, to gain control of DirecTV.
- No withholding (2006): FCC bans Comcast and Time Warner from withholding terrestrially delivered regional sports networks for six years.

SOURCE: Multichannel News research

( The entire article is at the following source: http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6388429.html )
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