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Public Knowledge Troubled By Court Third Party Decision

Public Knowledge says it is troubled by language in the D.C. Court ruling vacating the FCC's decision to make programming contracts and work products submitted to the FCC as part of the AT&T/DirecTV merger review process available to third parties. It was one of the third parties seeking that info.

In a statement, the group said the decision, issued Friday (May 8) could erect hurdles to parties trying to make the case against the merger, though it said having access to the now-defunct Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger had been a more central issue than access to the AT&T/DirecTV documents.

But it appeared more troubled by the court's finding that the FCC had not explained why it was necessary to make public that sensitive business information.

"We are worried that this decision contains language that could be interpreted to limit the ability of the public and outside parties to participate meaningfully in the merger review process," Public Knowledge said. "It could make it more difficult for outside parties to show that particular confidential information is a 'necessary link in a chain of evidence' before gaining access to it.  It is, of course, challenging to make that showing with respect to information one has not yet reviewed, and the FCC's usual practice has reflected that."

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.