FCC NRPM Includes Potential Revision of Buying Group Definition
ACA has been pushing for real-world treatment of NCTC
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/4/2012 8:39:09 PMnotice of proposed rulemaking accompanying the FCC's exclusive ban sunset order will include a proposal to change the FCC's definition of "buying group" to allow the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to file program access complaints without assuming collective liability for all of its members.
The American Cable Association has been pushing for the change, saying the current definition does not reflect current industry practices.'
NCTC is a nonprofit consortium of smaller cable operators who negotiate program carriage deals as a group in order to get volume discounts.
As currently defined, a buying group to qualify for standing to file a complaint has to assume "full liability for payments due to programmers under a master agreement," even though programmers didn't require that as part of their contracts.
"With nearly all small and medium-sized MVPDs dependent on their buying group to secure rights to cable programming networks," said ACA President Matt Polka last June, "these operators will receive protection from the program access rules only to the extent that their buying group is given the same protections in its dealings with cable-affiliated programmers that individual MVPDs are given, which is what Congress always intended. The time has come for the FCC to update its rules by revising its definition of 'buying groups."
The FCC is now teeing that up for comment and potential revision.
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