FCC program access NFPRM open for comment


FCCThe FCC wants to allow program access rules to sunset – a development that is very much opposed by legislators such as Ed Markey (D-MA) and organizations such as the American Cable Association. The Federal Register has now done its thing, starting the clock on the comment/reply comment cycle.

The new rules would eliminate requirements that owners of regional sports networks make them available to MVPD competitors, putting in its place a much softer requirement that they bargain with the competitors in good faith for carriage.

ACA was pleased with the new rules, given the caveat that it would have much rather retained the old rules. ACA’s Matt Polka said, “Although ACA thinks the outcome is less than ideal, ACA is hopeful that the FCC’s confidence in the functionality of the section 628(b) process, along with its additional safeguards concerning exclusive contracts, will send a strong signal to cable-affiliated programmers to not even attempt exclusive deals for must-have programming — whether it be RSNs or highly rated national cable networks — because the process will always lead to a finding that these deals are unfair and harm consumers and competition.”

ACA and any other interested parties will have a chance to get their comments on the record. Comments are due 11/30/12 and reply comments are due 12/17/12.

The proceeding is filed under MB Docket No. 12-68.