Cox Communications Can Put Leased-Access Channels on Digital Tier
Leased Access Programmers Association President Charlie Stogner Disagrees with FCC Order
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/14/2008 2:53:00 PM
Stogner had been pushing the FCC for a response to the complaint, which was filed in March of last year, but it was not the response he was looking for. He said he wants the commission to reconsider the decision.
According to a copy of the order Stogner supplied to B&C, the FCC concluded that because Cox's New Orleans system has more than 50% digital subscribership, it does not violate the leased-access rules.
"The commission gave the cable operator the discretion to place leased-access programming on any tier with a subscriber penetration of more than 50%," the order read. "Although we acknowledged that cable operators may have the incentive to place competitive leased-access programming on 'unfavorable tiers,' we determined that the 50% threshold requirement would adequately protect the interests of leased-access programmers while giving cable operators the flexibility to determine the 'marketing mix of different tiers.'"
The order continued, "In the instant case, RETV does not refute Cox's assertion that its digital tier has a FC subscriber penetration of more than 50%. Therefore, we agree with Cox that assignment of RETV's programming to the digital tier is not a violation of commission leased-access rules."
Stogner begged to differ. "This is an outrageous and dumbfounding ruling," he said. "[The law] clearly says leased access is to be on a tier used by most subscribers ... If the FCC prevails with this ruling, operators will immediately begin shifting leased access to digital and greatly cripple our ability to attract advertisers."
Democratic legislators have been paying close attention to the affect of cable's move to digital on PEG (public, educational and government) channels, particularly after the issue cropped up in the home territory of House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.). PEG and leased-access channels are similar in that cable operators are required to set aside capacity to carry them.
National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow, Has stated that giving must carry status to Class A stations would harm digital transition. This is absolute bullcrap. The cable industry has done everything in it's power to deny viewers access to local television stations on it's cable monopolies through out the country. It currently is airing ads that state television viewers will not receive signals after the 2-19-2009 cutoff date. They use a little old lady to try and scare people to subscribing to cable so they can get digital television. The current add campaign by the cable industry is fraudulent and outrageous.
Class A stations have been trying to get must carry rights for a very long time. In the DMA's over the largest 150 they have must carry rights, all Chairman Martin is doing is creating a level playing field for those stations in the markets below the top 150 DMA's. If cable companies would have played fair with these local broadcasters and agreed to carry these signals on local cable systems this would not be required. However cable monopolies do not want competition for local ad revenue. That is what this is all about. Cable systems in large DMA'a can find the space to carry hundreds of channels, but have no room for a couple of local Class A stations. This is absurd.
Cable wants to use scare tactics with fraudulent advertising to scare subscribers, and it wants to eliminate competitors from the marketplace, through more scare tactics and bullcrap to Congressional committees. Class A stations deserve must carry and will get it when the new order is published. Cable company litigation and scare tactics will do nothing to stop this. If I was Kyle McSlarrow I would seek legal council for the cable industry because their current ad campaign about digital transition is fraudulent and harms Class A stations, as well as low power stations. The Class A stations may choose to sue all the cable companies for slander and fraudulent advertising.
In addition Cable companies are subject to FCC regulation and are already required to carry Class A stations in some markets, The FCC has every right to upgrade Class A stations to ensure a smooth transition to digital Television. By having Class A stations switch to digital signals quicker it will free up valuable spectrum for first responders, and create a level playing field between all broadcasters and cable companies. The actions of the cable industry in this matter is disgraceful, slanderous and fraudulent.
jJ Marcus Campbell - 2/16/2008 10:42:00 AM EST
What's so wrong about his is FCC apparently didn't read or follow their own rules. Here's the rule:
Sec. 76.971 Commercial leased access terms and conditions.
(a)(1) Cable operators shall place leased access programmers that request access to a tier actually used by MOST subscribers on any tier that has a subscriber penetration of more than 50 percent, unless there are technical or other compelling reasons for denying access to such tiers.
Former President Clinton didn't understand what 'is' is and FCC can't understand 'MOST'. The channel they let Cox use has nearly half the subscribers as the channels Cox uses for their own local programming.
Charlie Stogner - 2/15/2008 6:37:00 PM EST
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