On Thursday, the American Cable Association and three independent programmers put out a statement urging the FCC “to address the harms associated with channel bundling, an industry practice where large, powerful programmers require smaller multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to clog their systems with unpopular channels in order to carry channels actually desired by consumers.” ACA, MAVTV Motorsports Network, One America News Network and AWE, and Ride TV put out a press release reviewing their argument to the FCC.
Not only do they want the Commission to tackle the issue soon, they state that channel bundling should take precedence over two other areas that the FCC had proposed to address. Those are unconditional “most-favored nation” (MFN) clauses and unreasonable alternative distribution method (ADM) provisions.
“The FCC’s proposed regulations of unconditional MFN and unreasonable ADM provisions can represent positive steps towards improving the availability of independent programming,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka says. “The diversity interests identified by the FCC, however, cannot be meaningfully protected without regulations addressing the unreasonable bundling practices of large programmers. ACA urges the FCC to include regulations limiting forced bundling by programmers in the rules adopted through this proceeding.”
ACA and the indie programmers argue in their statement that large programmers force small cable operators to carry numerous channels they would not carry otherwise. To the extent the FCC decides to act on MFNs and ADMs, ACA and the indie programmers suggest that the Commission should restrict large providers only from entering into unconditional MFNs with all “video programming vendors.” Unconditional MFNs between large providers and large programmers preclude carriage of independent programmers every bit as much as those forced upon independent programmers themselves, ACA and the independent programmers say.
The group’s statement also suggests the FCC should examine “unconditional MFNs demanded by broadcasters. These too can operate to preclude carriage of independent programmers.”
Additionally, the ACA and the programmers state that if the FCC is going to restrict “unreasonable” ADMs, it should also specify certain practices as presumptively reasonable. An example given in the statement is if the Commission should identify as presumptively reasonable short-term restrictions on distributing programming for free online and conditional “MFN-like” rate protections for MVPDs against rates charged for online distribution.
Filed Under: Industry regulations, Cables + cable management