The American Cable Association is telling the FCC that large media conglomerates hinder access to independent video programming by imposing forced bundling requirements, penetration obligations and other “harmful business models.” ACA filed its comments yesterday in the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on Independent Programming.
ACA asks that the FCC address practices by large players, “not only because they harm ACA members and their subscribers, but also because they threaten diversity.” Among other things, ACA states the following:
• Forced bundling takes away valuable capacity that low-bandwidth systems could otherwise use for independent programming (or for broadband, with which subscribers could access independent programming). It also raises programming costs, making it more difficult for ACA members to afford independent programming
• Penetration requirements force ACA members to create a bloated and expensive “Super Expanded Basic” tier filled with unwanted programming. This makes it more expensive for subscribers to obtain independent programming, which is often found on specialty tiers. It also makes it impossible for ACA members to offer a “slim bundle” of traditional programming along with Internet video
• Most-favored nation clauses (or MFNs) that large distributors demand of independent networks can prevent small cable operators from carrying such networks
• Attempts to impose programming fees on Internet access (such as the ESPN3 model) could raise the price of broadband, making it more expensive for consumers to access independent programming
“ACA members share the FCC’s goal to increase programming diversity,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka says. “These members represent rural communities, and it makes perfect sense for them to carry independent cable networks — especially those that center on rural life.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations