ACA: FCC Should Intervene in Video Marketplace

The American Cable Association took aim at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and others Tuesday for suggesting that there are no diversity-related problems with the video marketplace and access to distribution platforms that need the FCC's attention.

In comments in the FCC's program diversity inquiry, ACA said the reality was far different from the "mythological horn of plenty" those groups were asserting.

ACA, which represents smaller and midsized program distributors, said that different reality reflects the divide between those with market power and those without, and that those without see the marketplace as squeezing out independent viewpoints through anticompetitive practices with an indifference bordering on contempt.

ACA urged the FCC to proceed to a rulemaking to prevent those with the market power from acting as "gatekeepers for the programming MVPDs can deliver and subscribers can watch?"

But in the interim, it said the FCC could address the inequity through its review of good faith retransmission consent negotiations, which FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled this week was being "managed" toward resolution by the end of the year, and revisions to the program access rules to allow the National Cable Television Cooperative to file complaints at the FCC on behalf of its members—they must currently file individually.

ACA said giving the buying group standing to file complaints could help those smaller operators "address through enforcement action some of the activities described in this proceeding-which surely constitute 'unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices' against small cable operators."

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.