News Corp. said its contracts with the National Football League and other
sports organizations effectively bar the media giant from using DirecTV Inc. as
a satellite "bypass" around local affiliates the company does not own.
News Corp. is seeking Federal Communications Commission approval to take
operating control of DirecTV, the No. 1 direct-broadcast satellite carrier, with
more than 10 million subscribers.
In an FCC filing Aug. 28, News Corp. said its contracts with the NFL, Major
League Baseball and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing cover
"only over-the-air broadcast rights." Thus, using DirecTV to provide that
programming -- in lieu of retransmitting the local Fox station in a market --
would violate those sports deals, as well as a federal law that puts
restrictions on the delivery of network programming via satellite, the company
The company, headed by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was responding to
allegations by the National Association of Broadcasters that it intended to
distribute a Fox network national feed on DirecTV to "bypass" independent
affiliates, which often have disputes with the network.
In its FCC comments in June, the NAB said the FCC should take the "bypass"
threat so seriously that it should deny the merger unless News Corp. agreed not
to provide Fox via DirecTV in any market served by a non-News Corp.-owned Fox