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ACA: AT&T/DirecTV Needs RSN-Related Conditions

The American Cable Association has told the FCC that it should heed past AT&T/DirecTV concerns about access to regional sports networks (RSNs) and apply conditions to insure their proposed merger does not result in higher prices for rivals' access to their four RSNs.

ACA says program access rules are not sufficient protection against the incentive and opportunity for the combined company to charge competitors, like smaller cable operators with less discretionary income, higher prices for those RNSs.

In a filing in the merger docket, ACA said that "AT&T and DirecTV themselves have a long history of raising the same concerns as ACA about vertically integrated programmers, particularly with respect to access to RSN programming, the very programming assets at issue in this proceeding."

ACA says the two companies have also argued that program access rules are flawed, and DirecTV has even sought conditions on others similar to ones ACA is asking for, which are a nondiscriminatory access condition and baseball style arbitration."

"Applicants have long worried about the vertical integration of MVPD distribution and RSN programming assets, and have attested to flaws in the operation of the program access rules," ACA said. "The Commission should take heed of their prior advocacy, and adopt remedial conditions on the Applicant’s licenses that will actually work to ensure fair and non-discriminatory access to Applicants’ RSN programming, particularly for smaller MVPDs."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.