The American Cable Association, the Washington-based lobbying group for
nearly 900 small cable operators across the country, released its
proposed conditions for the pending Comcast NBC Universal joint venture
Thursday, seeking to level the playing field between the proposed
distribution and programming conglomerate and small cable operators.
ACA recommendations are just that - the Federal Communications
Commission is not obligated to adopt them - and are among several that
have been filed by other organizations with the agency since December
when the JV was announced.
which was expected to file documents with the FCC later Thursday,
mapped out a series conditions for the joint venture which it
recommended would stay in place for nine years. While some of the
conditions were standard for such large transactions - including
requiring program access rules requiring that the JV make its
programming available to all multichannel video programming distributors
(MVPDs) be upheld - others appear to be breaking new ground. Among the
proposed conditions: that Comcast/NBCU not be allowed to bundle its
owned and operated television stations or its regional sports networks
in carriage agreements; a most favored nation clause that would
prohibit Comcast/NBCU from pricing TV stations or RSNs to small
operators more than 5% above the best price it offers other MVPDs and
that any disputes be resolved through "baseball style" arbitration,
where each party submits a price they believe represents fair value for
the programming and an arbitrator picks one of the two.