beIN Sports Invokes Trump in Call for Access

Independent programmer beIN Sports says the FCC should take its cue from the campaign rhetoric of President Donald Trump and crack down on the major distributors and the contracts the programmer says they are using in an abuse of their market power.

That came in comments to the FCC on the commission's politically divided decision back in September to propose prohibiting unconditional most favored nation (MFN) clauses and "unreasonable" alternative delivery method (ADM) restrictions.

The FCC has yet to vote on a final order, and in the meantime a new sheriff has arrived.

The two commissioners who dissented from that decision are now in the majority, with senior Republican Ajit Pai having been tapped by President Donald Trump as the new chair.

But beIN Sports argues that is even more reason to excise the clauses.

"This proceeding affords the Commission an opportunity to put into practice what President Donald Trump and his supporters within the independent programming community have described as 'too much power in the hands of too few' throughout the video market," it told the commission.

It says the FCC was right to prevent unconditional MFNs and ADMs because they serve "no purpose other than granting a distributor all of the benefits of another carrier's deal without any reciprocal benefit to the programmer."

Pai and O'Rielly could be a tough audience. In dissenting back in September, they took aim at the proposal, saying limiting the contracts could actually hurt independents by making MVPDs less likely to strike deals with them. They pointed out that MVPDs were under no obligation to carry independent channels.

But beIN suggests Pai needs to take his cue from the President.

"Despite the change in leadership at the Commission as well as the White House, the fundamental premise of a broken video market that harms consumers remains an urgent reality," the company said. "Perhaps more than any other presidential candidate in modern history, President Donald Trump made media concentration a central issue of his campaign for President, underscoring the importance of this proceeding and the issues raised herein."

It pointed to the candidate's criticisms of the AT&T-Time Warner deal and of Comcast-NBCU concentrating too much power in one company. It also cited Trump campaign site rhetoric: "[O]ligopolistic realignment of the American media along ideological and corporate lines is destroying an American democracy that depends on a free flow of information and freedom of thought” and promised that “Donald Trump will [stand] against this trend and...for the American people.”

The independent argues that Trump supporters "want the new Administration to follow through on his campaign promises to address the outsized influence of major video players in a highly concentrated market," and cracking down on the contracts is one way of doing that.

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.