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FCC Approves Transfer of DirecTV's Station Licenses to Liberty Entertainment

The FCC Thursday approved the transfer of DirecTV's satellite and earth station licenses to Liberty Entertainment.

Liberty announced in September it planned to split off into a separate company Liberty Entertainment, the tracking stock that includes its Starz Entertainment premium network, its stake in satellite TV giant DirecTV, and other interests.

The FCC said Thursday that the transfer of licenses from Liberty properties DirecTV, California Broadcast Center and Game Show Network to Liberty Entertainment Inc. (LEI), was in the public interest and that the new company--including DirecTV--would be held to the same conditions it applied when it approved Liberty's purchase of DirecTV.

Those conditions included continued compliance with federal program access rules – which prohibit Liberty from withholding any programming it owns from other distributors – and the divestiture of either its Liberty Cablevision cable operations in Puerto Rico or its DirecTV Puerto Rico operations. According to Liberty’s annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 24, Liberty complied with the FCC condition by placing DirecTV Puerto Rico into a trust and has appointed a trustee who I required to oversee the management and operation of the unit.

"The complexities associated with a tracking stock structure and should facilitate a more accurate valuation of the relevant businesses and assets," the FCC said. "Moreover, we discern no public interest harms arising from this transaction," the commission concluded.