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Andy Wright, president of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, said the decision to keep program rules for satellite TV intact "is a major win for consumers."

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission extended for another five years regulations that allow satellite TV companies to obtain programming owned or dominated by cable. "The program access rules have allowed DBS operators to obtain popular programming at competitive prices, and fair access to programming has allowed DBS to provide consumers with real choice and competition," Wright said.

However, Wright expressed disappointment that the commission couldn't close the "terrestrial loophole," which allows cable companies to escape program access rules through terrestrial delivery of content to cable headends.

The loophole has allowed some cable companies to "evade Congressional intent that vertically-integrated programmers be required to sell their programming to all (multichannel video providers) on a fair and non-discriminatory basis," Wright said, adding that Congress should revisit the issue and close the loophole.

Others also praised the FCC move.

Said Roxanne Austin, president and COO at DirecTV, "The program access rules were instrumental in helping DirecTV obtain programming to compete with entrenched cable operators, and today's decision by the FCC preserves competition and diversity in the multichannel TV marketplace. This five-year extension will be of great benefit to our customers, who will continue to have access to a wide variety of quality programming on DirecTV."

On the opposing side, Dan Brenner, senior vice president at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said the organization was disappointed that the FCC "chose not to eliminate this regulatory relic.

"Eliminating this rule this year would have restored balance in allowing limited exclusivity to be used to differentiate competitive offerings," Brenner said.

From SkyReport (Used with Permission)
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