At least two companies that are in competition with the cable television industry are pleased that the FCC moved to close the programming terrestrial loophole. Meanwhile, a cable company wasn’t quite so keen on it but still found room for some positive spin.
Cablevision Systems Corporation echoed the concerns of lone Commission dissenter Robert McDowell as to the legal underpinnings of the action, but was pleased that the FCC kept the process open to challenge. “While we find the legal basis for the decision unfounded, we are pleased that the FCC recognized the value of Cablevision’s local programming strategy and investments,” said Cablevision in a statement. “Verizon and AT&T will not receive an FCC bailout that will allow them to capture News 12, MSG Varsity and other programming that we have developed for our customers. We are also pleased that despite the phone companies’ overwhelming lobbying effort, the FCC has ensured a complaint process. If the phone companies complain that they are unable to compete, we are confident that we can prove that it is for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with HD sports programming. Verizon and AT&T do not need a regulatory bailout in order to compete.”
Fiber-optic service bundler RCN Corporation was very happy with the ruling. It said, “RCN is pleased that the Commission has decided to assert its clear authority to require program access for terrestrially delivered cable programming. As RCN has stated many times in many different Commission proceedings over the years, the competitive effect of withholding ‘must have’ programming is no different depending on whether the programming is terrestrially or satellite delivered. Today’s action by the Commission sends a resounding message to vertically integrated incumbent operators that they cannot circumvent the program access rules by shifting programming to terrestrial delivery platforms. We were also pleased to hear that the order will include procedures for complainants to be protected against termination of programming during the complaint process and that it recognizes that some of its complaint procedures may be unduly burdensome for smaller operators. We look forward to reviewing the details of those provisions when the order is released.”
Also weighing in with a positive review was satellite service DIRECTV. It said, “The FCC’s order today eliminating the terrestrial loophole is a big win for consumers and fair competition in the marketplace. We vigorously applaud the FCC for recognizing that withholding cable-owned regional sports networks from non-cable competitors significantly hinders competition and is anti-consumer. We are looking forward to offering DIRECTV customers the local sports programming they have been denied for so many years.”