Although the parties may be touting the synergies that will be gained through the union, the American Cable Association opposes A&E Television Networks' acquisition of Lifetime Entertainment Services.
The trade organization representing some 900 small and mid-sized, independent cable companies said the purchase will produce higher cable bills and mean less channel choice for consumers in rural America.
"Media conglomerates Disney, Hearst and NBCU, which will take three-way control of Lifetime through their interest in A&E, use their market power to force small cable operators to pay unfair and unreasonable wholesale rates and distribute channels that their customers do not want included in their programming packages," said ACA president and CEO Matt Polka in a statement. "A&E's takeover of Lifetime -- call it Project Wrongway -- will further enhance the power of media giants to discriminate against video consumers served by ACA members in thousands of rural communities."
ACA has urged the Federal Communications Commission, which the group says has an open rulemaking on the matter (07-198), to rectify market abuses in the wholesale cable programming market, which is controlled by a handful of media conglomerates
"Media giants coerce smaller operators into accepting prices, terms, and conditions -- including obligations to put channels like A&E, Lifetime, History Channel and others on their systems' most basic tiers -- which force consumers to pay for programming that they rarely watch," Polka noted. "With the Lifetime Networks about to become part of A&E, consumers shouldn't be surprised to see Lifetime's less popular channels, like Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Real Women, migrating from digital tiers to basic cable, and see their monthly cable bills going up as a result."
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