ACA to FCC: Bundling Is Biggest Diversity Damper

The American Cable Association, joined by some independent programmers, told the FCC in reply comments this week (opens in new tab) that forced bundling of channels is the biggest obstacle to a thriving and diverse program marketplace.

They pointed out that if an MVPD wants to carry a desirable channel from the nine largest media companies, they would have to carry a minimum of 65 channels to get them. That often means less space for channels like MAVTV Motorsports Network, AWE and Ride TV, which joined ACA in the filing.

The cable ops argue that it is clear from the record that addressing that problem is a prerequisite to the competition that the FCC is trying to promote.

That includes package deals in retrans agreements, ACA says.

"At a minimum, the FCC should eliminate bundling from the list of conduct that is presumptively consistent with good faith conduct in broadcast carriage talks. This practice has real, anti-competitive implications, making it more difficult for channels not affiliated with a top-rated broadcast station to obtain carriage," said ACA president Matt Polka.

John Eggerton

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.