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FCC NRPM Includes Potential Revision of Buying Group Definition

According to sources, the further notice of
proposed rulemaking accompanying the FCC's exclusive ban sunset order

will include a proposal to change the FCC's definition of "buying
group" to
allow the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to file program access
complaints without assuming collective liability for all of its members.

American Cable Association has been pushing for the change, saying the current
definition does not reflect current industry practices.'

is a nonprofit consortium of smaller cable operators who negotiate program
carriage deals as a group in order to get volume discounts.

currently defined, a buying group to qualify for standing to file a complaint
has to assume "full liability for payments due to programmers under a
master agreement," even though programmers didn't require that as part of
their contracts.

nearly all small and medium-sized MVPDs dependent on their buying group to
secure rights to cable programming networks," said ACA President Matt Polka
last June, "these operators will receive protection from the program
access rules only to the extent that their buying group is given the same
protections in its dealings with cable-affiliated programmers that individual
MVPDs are given, which is what Congress always intended. The time has come for
the FCC to update its rules by revising its definition of 'buying groups."

FCC is now teeing that up for comment and potential revision.

John Eggerton
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.