Filing additional comments with the Federal Communications Commission Friday, the American Cable Association continued its opposition to News Corp.’s bid to be freed of conditions—related to retransmission consent and regional sports networks—imposed by the regulatory body as part of the media giant’s purchase of DirecTV in 2004.
News Corp., which sold its holdings in DirecTV to Liberty Media in February, has filed a petition of modification with the FCC claiming that the conditions should no longer apply. The terms of the order setting the conditions aren’t set to expire until 2010.
ACA’s nine-page filing Friday expands on its previous filing calling attention to News Corp.’s. recent claims of “big gains” from its broadcast and cable networks.
“These public statements eliminate any shred of credibility to the petition’s claims that News Corp., and the public interest, would somehow suffer from a ‘competitive disadvantage’ that would befall News Corp. if the conditions were not terminated early,” the ACA said in its most recent filing.
“Throughout this process, News Corp. has manipulated the commission and ignored the public interest,” ACA president Matt Polka charged.
“Petitioning the Commission for relief from conditions it alleges are restrictive—while simultaneously reporting to Wall Street big gains from its television stations and cable networks—defies logic,” he said. “The conditions set in 2004 serve the public good, specifically for those communities served by small and medium-sized cable systems. Repealing them prematurely would reward News Corp. for its abuse of the process, enabling it to ignore the public good while continuing to collect ’big gains."
If the agreed-upon conditions for News Corp. were lifted, small cable operators and their customers will be forced to pay more money for the same content, because News Corp. will exercise unconstrained market power over smaller distributors, the ACA argued.