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ACA Targets Case For Comcast/NBCU Conditions

The American Cable Association continues to push
the FCC to adopt conditions on the Comcast/NBCU deal that it says
would reduce the competitive harms to its members.

In a filing with the commission this week, ACA
said its proposals did not go much beyond previous conditions on vertical
mergers--like DirecTV/News Corp. and Time Warner Cable--and would "temper
both the vertical and horizontal harms."

ACA wants Comcast/NBCU to have to make its TV
stations and regional sports nets (RSNs) available to other pay TV distributors
on a stand-alone basis, something station and cable news
channel owner Allbritton Communications is also
arguing strongly for.

It also wants independent baseball-style
arbitration for stations, RSNs and national cable nets, a prohibition on charging
smaller cable operators more than 5% more than the lowest price paid by a
competing pay provider in a market for the NBC station or

ACA has pitched those conditions before, but
said it was weighing in again to provide more explanation, point out the
"shortcomings" in previous conditions on vertical mergers and to
cover the horizontal issues it sees.

There have been reports that the FCC is
considering arbitration conditions like those on DirecTV/News Corp. An FCC
spokesperson had no comment, but the fact that the FCC would be talking
with industry players about similar conditions,
given their precedent in prior vertical transactions, is not surprising.

The FCC and Justice Department are currently vetting the proposed $30
billion joint venture that would put Comcast in charge of NBC Universal. A
decision is expected by the end of this year or early next.