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FCC Moves Forward on Adjudicating Access Complaints

The FCC's Media Bureau has taken the next step toward adjudicating a half-dozen program-access complaints lodged by Wealth TV, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and the NFL against Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House.

That's according to an order released Friday by the FCC Media Bureau telling both sides to provide arguments and evidence by Jan. 28, as well as submitting their "best and final offer" for the price of carrying the programmers' networks on the defendants systems. The Bureau also set deadlines for deciding the complaints.

The FCC also adopted a protective order to insure that any confidential information remains confidential. That means the FCC will not make the information public, though the order is not necessarily a shield against freedom of information requests.

The Media Bureau also provided deadlines for its resolution of the complaints. They are: WealthTV v. Time Warner Cable, Feb. 13; Wealth TV vs. Bright House Networks, Feb. 13; Wealth TV vs. Cox, Feb. 13; MASN Vs. Comcast, Feb. 20; and NFL vs. Comcast, Feb. 27.

Comcast and other targets of the complaints had sought to block the Media Bureau from adjudicating the complaints, saying jurisdiction remained with the administrative law judge that the Media Bureau had originally delegated the complaints to.

The Bureau took the complaints back after the judge said he could not meet the 60-day deadline for deciding the decisions set by the bureau.

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.