Murdoch Visits with Ferree, FCC7/24/2001 4:29 AM Eastern
News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch made the rounds Monday at the Federal
Communications Commission to meet with top agency officials.
Although News Corp. is not a cable-system owner, Murdoch included a visit to
the office of W. Kenneth Ferree, the new chief of the Cable Services Bureau.
An FCC spokeswoman confirmed the Murdoch-Ferree meeting but described it as a
brief courtesy visit.
Murdoch stopped by as the commission is reportedly in the final stages of
approving News Corp.'s $3.7 billion acquisition of 10 TV stations from
Chris-Craft Industries Inc.
Murdoch is also reportedly close to finalizing a deal to acquire DirecTV
Inc., the largest U.S. direct-broadcast satellite company, with about 10 million
Ferree's bureau does not oversee the DBS industry, but it does oversee the
program-access rules, which require vertically integrated cable operators to
sell satellite-delivered programming to DirecTV and EchoStar Communications
In past public statements, Ferree has expressed the view that program-access
rules -- particularly the ban on cable exclusivity -- should not sunset next
October under current law.
The FCC has the authority to extend the rules beyond next October, and the
agency is expected to launch a proceeding in the fall.