SBCA Targets Program-Access Loophole

Program-access laws should be expanded to include cable-owned networks that
are delivered by terrestrial means, the direct-broadcast satellite industry said
in a June 4 letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association told Powell that
the ability of cable operators to shift programming from satellite to fiber or
microwave represented an 'evasion' of rules designed to give DBS firms full
access to cable-owned programming.

The SBCA called on Powell to recommend to Congress that 'it close this

Under the 1992 Cable Act, cable operators are required to sell their cable
networks that are satellite-delivered to DBS. Broadcast-affiliated cable
networks, no matter what their mode of distribution, are exempt, as are cable
networks delivered terrestrially.

The exclusivity provisions of the program-access rules expire Oct. 5, 2002,
unless extended by the FCC. Powell has indicated that he plans to launch a
proceeding on extension later this year.

Although the SBCA called for eliminating the terrestrial exemption, it did
not call on Powell to ask Congress for the law to cover the stable of
broadcast-affiliated cable networks owned by NBC, The Walt Disney Co., Viacom
Inc. and News Corp.