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DirecTV Drops FCC Complaint vs. In Demand

DirecTV Inc. withdrew its program-access complaint at the Federal Communications Commission against In Demand Networks, ending a dispute that flared last June over the pricing of HD-programming services.

DirecTV -- the largest direct-broadcast satellite pay TV provider, with about 15 million subscribers -- asked the FCC Friday to dismiss the complaint "without prejudice" -- a condition that would allow DirecTV to file a similar complaint at a later date.

DirecTV sources declined to comment. A cable source familiar with the issue argued that DirecTV ended the controversy because the satellite carrier knew it was unlikely to prevail.

In the original complaint, DirecTV alleged price discrimination with regard to access to In Demand's two HD channels. In Demand's rate card called for an identical license fee based on the number of digital subscribers served by a pay TV distributor, cable or satellite

DirecTV alleged that In Demand's fee structure would result in it having to pay much more than cable for the same programming because all of its customers were digital.

The DBS provider added that the license fee for both satellite and cable should be related to the number of HD subscribers.

In Demand is owned by Time Warner Inc., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc.