Cox executives met with FCC officials this week to hammer home their point that the proposed AT&T/DirecTV poses threats to competition and should only be granted if the FCC addresses that anticompetitive potential through targeted conditions, including holding them to the same basic service tier requirements that apply to cable ops.
Citing a "troubling and unprecedented combination of wireline, wireless, and satellite assets," Cox said that the deal would need "narrow conditions" but also "strict limits" on the combined company's ability to "use its nationwide scale and massive size to engage in unfair competitive practices."
Those conditions would include removing some of the regulatory advantages Cox says AT&T and DirecTV have enjoyed as "putative upstart competitors to established rivals."
Cox wants the merged company to be subject to full program access and unfair competition rules, including prohibitions on exclusive agreements with MDUs (multiple dwelling units); prohibitions on "excessive" volume discounts; the basic service tier requirement; prohibitions on exclusive programming agreements; IP interconnection with the AT&T legacy wireline network and more.
Cox last fall petitioned the FCC to grant the deal only if it applied those conditions. Not surprisingly, AT&T and DirecTV opposed the petition.
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.
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