RFD-TV Pushes FCC to OK 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 network's good relationship with Charter, which now carries the channel on all 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 Multichannel News that the deal does not automatically extend to Charter's new systems if the merger is approved, but said he was hopeful Charter would 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 Bright House 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.

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.