ACA urges conditions on Fox-DirecTV merger

The American Cable Association (ACA) has asked the FCC to impose strict conditions on the proposed Fox-DirecTV merger regarding retransmission consent, program access and exclusive programming controlled by DirecTV.

The Fox-DirecTV application seeks approval of a merger which will result in a single entity with control over the supply of key broadcast and satellite programming for more than 1,000 smaller cable companies while being the biggest competitor to these same cable companies, ACA said.

News Corp.’s weapons, the ACA said, will include retransmission consent for Fox O&O stations; prices and terms for Fox satellite programming; and bottleneck control over programming by DirecTV, especially local broadcast signals.

Before approving the merger, the ACA said the FCC should restrain News Corp.’s ability to use retransmission consent to disadvantage smaller competitors to benefit News Corp. and DirecTV; restrain News Corp.’s ability to use terms and conditions of access to News Corp. programming to disadvantage smaller competitors to benefit News Corp. and DirecTV; and restrain DirecTV’s ability to deny smaller competitors access to local-into-local signals in rural areas.

As to over-the-air broadcast signals, the ACA said News Corp./DirecTV should be required to distribute local-into-local broadcast television signals to smaller cable operators and other MVPDs on the following basis: In markets where DirecTV delivers local-into-local signals, DirecTV shall make those signals available to cable operators on nondiscriminatory prices, terms and conditions, when the cable operator cannot receive a good quality signal off-air and the cable operator has the consent of the broadcaster.

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