Sources: Martin Circulated Order to Lift Conditions on News Corp. After DirecTV Deal

No action has been taken, stance of Democratic commissioners uncertain

Filed at 6:00PM EST on January 27, 2009

FCC sources confirm that outgoing Chairman Kevin Martin circulated an order before he left that would have lifted the remaining conditions imposed on News Corp. when it bought DirecTV.

No action has been taken on the proposal, and it is unclear whether either of the Democratic commissioners would support the move.

News Corp. asked the FCC back in September to remove the conditions because it had sold DirecTV to Liberty--at which point some of the conditions had been removed--and all the conditions had been imposed as part of News Corp.'s purchase of DirecTV in 2003.

The FCC had been concerned that News Corp. could favor DirecTV with carriage of its regional sports nets and Fox TV station signals, so it required the company to make programming assets available to competing cable and satellite networks.

Liberty, which also owns stakes in multichannel video programming, agreed to abide by the access conditions, but News Corp. argued that the reason for applying the conditions--which were to have extended to 2010--were clearly mooted by the sale.