The Federal Communications Commission voted recently 5-0 to sunset (end) rules that prohibit exclusive contracts between cable operators and cable programmers, when a cable operator has an interest. Cable companies that own programming, like Comcast or Cablevision, no longer must make their programming available to competing pay TV providers at reasonable terms. This puts the nail in the coffin of the program-access exclusivity ban, part of the Cable Act of 1992. Now cable companies can control whether to deny programming to other distributors or develop exclusive programming deals. The exclusivity provision applied only to satellite delivery of programming to cable operators, not to fiber optic cables or terrestrial delivery. (To see the revised FCC program access rules, click here.) Smaller cable companies, satellite TV and telco providers (AT&T and Verizon) worry that they may lose programs owned by the big guys, and, thus, suffer serious competitive disadvantage. The FCC established a six-month deadline for resolution of program-access complaints on a case-by-case basis. Adweek’s Katy Bachman finds that the FCC listened to the message of the Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia in Cablevision v. FCC — that is that the program access exclusivity ban had been successful in encouraging competition among pay TV providers and that its goals had been achieved.
FCC turns off cable access programming rule
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