FCC seeks comment on regional sports networks


It all goes back to the implosion of cable company Adelphia Communications and the acquisition of parts of it by Time Warner Cable and Comcast. A condition on the acquisitions was that the buyers had to make regional sports networks available to competing non-affiliated MVPDs at reasonable rates, among other things. The FCC is now getting ready to craft a report on the topic and is soliciting comment beforehand.

The report topic is “regional sports network access and carriage issues both on an industry-wide basis and specifically with respect to the Applicants.” It’s due 6/13/12.

FCC notes several changes since then – TWC’s parent split in three, Comcast acquired NBCU, and a rulemaking in 2010 on an RSN carriage complaint process.

Here are the issues it wishes to consider:

“We seek comment generally on issues related to RSN access and carriage. What effect, if any, have marketplace and the 2007 and 2010 program access rules revisions had on MVPDs’ ability to gain access to RSN programming?  Similarly, what impact have regulatory and marketplace changes since the Adelphia Order had on the ability of unaffiliated RSNs to gain carriage on MVPD systems? Since the release of the Adelphia Order has there been an increase in the delivery of RSNs by terrestrial means? In addition, has the number of RSNs affiliated with a cable operator changed since the release of the Adelphia Order? If there has been a change, how does this number compare with the overall number of RSNs in the marketplace? Are there examples since the release of the Adelphia Order involving the withholding of an RSN and what impact has this had on the MVPD marketplace? Further, has there been a change in the number of exclusive deals involving MVPDs and unaffiliated RSNs since the release of the Adelphia Order?”

FCC continued, “Moreover, we seek comment on the access of MVPDs, other than the Applicants, to RSN programming in which the Applicants hold an interest. We also request comment on whether unaffiliated RSNs have obtained carriage on the Applicants’ cable systems and on what terms. Finally, we seek comment on the Applicants’ compliance with the Adelphia Order’s RSN conditions, the dispute resolution process and the effectiveness of these remedies. Do such conditions continue to be necessary in light of marketplace and regulatory changes since the time of their adoption?”

Comment deadline is 9/9/11, and the reply comment deadline is 9/26/11.