RFD May Bury AT&T/DirecTV In FCC Comments

The FCC has gotten more than 3,000 comments on the proposed AT&T/DirecTV merger since setting the comment deadlines only five days ago and if a spot check is any indication, a majority of them are calling for the companies to make sure they carry rural programmer RFD-TV. (Of a couple of dozen comments randomly selected, only one did not cite RFD or rural programming).

That follows a similar flood of comments on RFD-TV to the Comcast/Time Warner Cable docket.

The rural channel has gotten some high-profile attention in Hill hearings, including from channel founder, Patrick Gottsch, who has made the pitch personally. He has also set up a button on the channel's Web site to make it easy for fans to contact Washington.

There are also a number of legislators from rural states who said during hearings they had had heard from constituents concerned about losing the channel.

"RFD-TV did not put any words in anyone's mouth," Gottsch told B&C/Multichannel News of the campaign that has resulted in comments on both proposed mergers. "These folks are pouring their hearts out, and quite frankly, I am humbled by the support that RFD-TV and RURAL TV is getting nationwide."

AT&T has signaled that it could add RFD-TV to U-Verse if the FCC approves its deal with DirecTV, which carries the channel.

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.