Broadcasters seek protection in merger proceedings


FCCIn its effort to develop a full record as it considers two high profile media mergers, the FCC has requested information from television broadcast groups. They are asking for a firm guarantee that sensitive business information will not become part of that record.

The FCC is seeking comment, and quickly – its wants responses by Friday 9/26/14.

Among the groups seeking protection via a number of letters and ex parte meetings are CBS Corporation, Discovery Communications, The Walt Disney Company, Twenty First Century Fox, Inc., Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc., Univision Communications Inc., LIN Television Corporation, Gray Television, Inc., Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, E.W. Scripps Company and Raycom Media.

The FCC explained, “We seek comment on the concerns and proposals contained in the attached filings.  Are the documents cited by the filers — programming agreements and retransmission consent agreements –materials that warrant additional protection beyond that provided pursuant to our existing protective orders in these proceedings?  Are there other categories of documents for which additional protection should be considered?  Are the current protective orders in these proceedings sufficient to protect the confidentiality of such materials?”

The FCC continued, “If we conclude that further protective measures are appropriate, are there different or additional measures the Commission might take to meet, in whole or in part, the concerns expressed in the ex parte filings, consistent with the interests of other parties and our interest in performing an efficient and effective merger review?  For example, could the Commission implement a process whereby an individual’s affirmation or reaffirmation if required under the protective order would trigger a brief period of time during which the applicant or a party to a programming or retransmission consent agreement that has been produced may object to that individual’s access to the materials because the individual participates in competitive decision making?  Could the Commission implement a process whereby any person that has executed an affirmation is able to review these confidential documents only through applicant’s counsel either in counsel’s offices or through a remote access document review platf orm?  Should the copying of such documents be prohibited?  Are there other measures we should consider, including the re-emphasis of sanctions for violations of the protective order?”

Speak now of forever hold your peace!