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RFD-TV Pushes FCC to Approve Charter-TWC Merger

Fresh off of an expanded carriage agreement with Charter, rural lifestyle network RFD-TV has become a cheerleader for the cable operator's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House.

Executives were in Washington this week to talk up the nets good relationship with Charter, which now carries the channel on all of its systems. RFD-TV even took an ad out in The Washington Post to proclaim its support, which also included comments filed with the FCC earlier this month on why the deal would "expand opportunities for the distribution of independent rural programming."

At the time that agreement was struck late last month, RFD-TV founder Patrick Gottsch told B&C that the deal does not automatically extend to Charter's new systems if the merger is approved, but did say he is hopeful Charter will be amenable to doing so.

"Rural America recognizes that its best opportunity to reconnect city with country again is to have Charter Communications control access to the urban homes currently being served by Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse systems," Gottsch said this week in promoting the Charter deal.

Charter is currently trying to get its merger with Time Warner Cable approved by regulators, so expanding its carriage deal with a rural-targeted independent programmer couldn't hurt, and could actually help.

AT&T struck a deal with RFD-TV while it was trying to get its DirecTV deal approved, and after RFD-TV and its fans pushed the FCC to make carriage of the channel a condition of the merger.

RFD got some high-profile attention in Hill hearings on the AT&T-DirecTV and Comcast-Time Warner Cable deals from legislators concerned about large media companies' carriage of rural-themed programming.