John Eggerton

FCC Supports Fast Track for NAB Auction Challenge

The Federal Communications Commission said it supports the National Association of Broadcasters' request for expedited hearing of NAB's challenge to a portion of the incentive auction rules.

While saying it was not agreeing with NAB's criticism of the FCC's auction order, or that broadcasters would suffer irreparable injury absent the quick turn-around, it agreed that it was "generally in the public interest" to resolve the issue as promptly as possible.

American Television Alliance: CBS Radio Rejects Local Choice Ad

CBS radio stations KMOX in St. Louis, WCCO Minneapolis, KXNT Las Vegas, and KDKA Pittsburgh have rejected an ad from the American Television Alliance promoting a new "local choice" retransmission-remaking proposal that TV stations say threatens their business model and localism.

NAB Seeks Expedited Hearing of Auction Challenge

The National Association of Broadcasters wants the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to setting a briefing and oral argument schedule for its challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's incentive auction or else the case may not be decided before the auction is over.

NAB filed a motion for expedited review, requesting a decision form the court on its motion by Sept 5.

Entravision: Comcast/TWC Threatens Latino Programmers

Spanish-language programmer Entravision says the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger will harm the Latino community and competing Latino-market program providers, and says the Federal Communications Commission should make Comcast divest its Spanish language networks as a condition of approval of the deal.

In comments to the FCC on the proposed deal, Entravision says that the combined company will have more buying power in the Latino programming market and could favor its own Latino-focused programming over independent programming, including from Entravision. That means a probable pay cut to independent programmers, if they are not foreclosed altogether, the company says.

ACA: Comcast/TWC Poses Horizontal, Vertical Harms

The Comcast/TWC deal poses vertical harms, horizontal harms, and spot cable ad market harms that need more than arbitration to remedy. That was the message from the American Cable Association to the Federal Communications Commission in comments on the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

That means the FCC needs to either impose conditions to protect competition and consumers, particularly when it comes to program distribution or just say no to the deal.

Sinclair Seeks Retransmission Conditions on Comcast/TWC

Sinclair Broadcasting has told the Federal Communications Commission it must either put conditions on the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger -- including retransmission conditions --deregulate broadcasters, or deny the deal.

Sinclair wants the FCC to ensure, for example, that Comcast’s NBC could not charge more in reverse compensation to Sinclair than it does its own stations. And given that TWC has a management deal with Bright House and "routinely negotiates" for it, Sinclair says the FCC needs to take that into account when determining whether the new company controls more than 30% of video subscribers.

Senate Commerce Committee GOP Posts Video Promoting 'Local Choice'

The Senate Commerce Committee Republicans tweeted a link from a video promoting/explaining the Local Choice proposal of Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- WV) and ranking member Sen John Thune (R- SD).

That proposal, which they want to include as part of satellite license reauthorization legislation being teed up for September, would allow multichannel video programming distributor subscribers to choose whether they want to pay for stations who elect payment for retransmission consent. That also means the cable operators would not be required to deliver all retransmission stations on the basic tier, since they would not have to deliver them at all to viewers who opted not to pay for them.

Viamedia to FCC: Protect Spot Cable Market

Cable ad outsourcer Viamedia says the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable would give the combined company too much control over the spot cable marketplace, and wants the Federal Communications Commission to impose conditions to make sure that doesn't happen.

In comments on the deal, which were due Aug 25, Viamedia says Comcast/TWC would control "approximately $4.5 billion of the $5.4 billion national Spot Cable Advertising market.”

CFA to FCC: Block That Deal

The Consumer Federation of America, a strong critic of the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, made it official, filing a petition to block the merger.

CFA says the deal would pose a "much greater" threat to consumers than the Comcast/NBCU merger, which CFA also opposed and the Federal Communications Commission approved. CFA asserts that the "inevitable" result of the deal will be higher prices, worse service and less innovation, says CFA research director Mark Cooper, a familiar face on Capitol Hill testifying against media mergers.

“The acquisition of Time Warner [Cable] would increase Comcast’s market power by at least 50% and create a goliath that would tower over the industry," he said.

New York PSC Has Concentration Concerns with Comcast/TWC

The New York State Public Service Commission says it is "currently" not taking a position on whether the Federal Communications Commission should approve or block the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, but has a number of "potential concerns," including that the companies may be lowballing the potential of vertical and horizontal harms.

The NYPSC, which is conducting its own review of the deal's impact on the state, did say that the FCC should focus its review on vertical and horizontal market power issues, as well as bridging the digital divide and mitigating market power harms.

NYPSC is suggesting that the FCC require Comcast to offer a $50 per month service with download speeds of at least 10 Mbps, which the FCC has suggested could be its new baseline for high-speed broadband. NYPSC also suggests the FCC could beef up enforcement of conditions by allowing an arbitrator to award attorneys’ fees for successful complaints.