‘Petition Pulls Aside the Veil’ Obscuring Media Giant’s True Objective
Pittsburgh, May 1, 2008 – The American Cable Association (ACA) today formally filed in opposition of an on going effort by News Corp. to change the conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by the Order permitting the acquisition of satellite provider DIRECTV. News Corp., which sold its holdings in DIRECTV in 2008, now claims the conditions should no longer apply and has filed a petition of modification with the FCC. The terms of the Order are not set to expire until 2010.
In its filing of opposition today, the ACA explained that failure to deny the Petition would erode the substantial public interest benefits that have accrued, and will continue to do so throughout the full term of those conditions. The News Corp./DirecTV conditions continue to advance the public interest by: (i) protecting competition by maintaining access to “must have” programming; and (ii) avoiding temporary foreclosures and the disruption of customer viewing patterns.
Moreover, the existence of the conditions has not resulted in any appreciable harm to News Corp.
“News Corp’s efforts to change the rules long after the game has started is certainly unreasonable,” said Matthew M. Polka, ACA President and Chief Executive Officer, “but its attempts to deceive the commission and suppress their true intent to skirt the conditions of the previous Order is unforgivable. For the entire year leading up to the 2008 sale of DIRECTV, News Corp maintained it would not ask for the conditions of the 2004 Order to be modified, but before the ink had even dried they had filed a petition with the Commission asking for the conditions to be modified – a blatant manipulation of the process. This behavior undermines the Commission’s authority and the public interest the 2004 Order has successfully advanced. The Commission must not stand for it, and unquestionably should not reward it.”
During negotiations with the FCC prior to the sale of DIRECTV, the issue of modifying the 2004 Order was raised during the public comment period, prompting News Corp to respond with the following statement:
“Because News Corp. has not filed a petition for modification of the conditions, they are scheduled to remain effective, by their terms, until January 14, 2010. Accordingly, requests that the Commission continue to apply to News Corp. the RSN and broadcast arbitration conditions, as set forth in the CU, ACA and NCTC comments, are inapposite and untimely….At this point, further discussion of the issue is unnecessary, irrelevant and a waste of Commission resources….Since News Corp. has not requested any change to the conditions, the Commission need not speculate about any impact that elimination of the conditions could have on pending disputes.”
About the American Cable Association
Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit www.americancable.org.