Sky Angel Files Program Access Complaint Against Discovery

IPTV distributor Sky Angel has filed both a program access
complaint at the FCC and also asked for a standstill order on its current

According to Sky Angel, Discovery plans to terminate its
agreement with the distributor more than four years early, and within the next
two weeks.

Sky Angel says Discovery has notified it that the existing
affiliation agreement would terminate Apr. 22, 2010 rather than the current
Dec. 31, 2014, citing concerns about the way the programming is being
delivered, though without elaboration.

Sky Angel says the move would discriminate against it in
favor of other distributors, like Time Warner and Comcast, who deliver
Discovery programming over the 'net. "Discovery's threatened unfair method
of competition and unfair acts are designed to hinder Sky Angel's continued
growth and the possibility that Sky Angel emerges as a viable competitor to the
now-dominant cable and satellite MVPDs.

Sky Angel wants the commission to prevent Discovery from
pulling the plug until the complaint has been resolved, saying that it could
suffer irreparable harm if the commission does not, and pointing out that the
Apr. 22 date is long before any pleading cycle could be completed on the
complaint, which was filed March 24.

Angel migrated
from satellite delivery to a pure-play Internet video
distributor a couple of years back.

Sky Channel says Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, the Military Channel, and more of the programmers offerings are "among the most popular" on the service and are thus "must-have" programming.

Discovery had no comment on the filings.

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.