ACA Seeks FCC Help in Lifetime Dispute

American Cable Association Writes Federal Communications Commission About Breakdown of Carriage Talks
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The American Cable Association complained to the Federal Communications Commission about the breakdown of carriage negotiations between Lifetime Networks and a CableCom system in the small town of Willsboro, N.Y.

In a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the ACA, which represents smaller cable operators, said Lifetime owners Hearst and Disney pulled the channel from the system May 12 after the operator would not move its Lifetime Movie Network from a digital to an analog basic tier.

The ACA -- which is trying to get the FCC to require cable programmers to sell their channels individually, as well as in bundles -- said CableCom would have to "divert bandwidth from cable-modem service," if it did what Lifetime's owners wanted, which, it added, demonstrates "how tying and bundling undercuts broadband deployment."

"This is a case where you either take the bundled services [Lifetime and its movie channel] or you lose everything," ACA president Matt Polka said. "We are trying to show that, contrary to their own statements, cable programmers do dictate take-it-or-leave-it deals that force content on consumers and make them pay more for the same content they receive today.”

"We encourage you and your colleagues to continue your scrutiny of wholesale programming and retransmission-consent practices," Polka told Martin in the letter.

"Cable Communications of Willsboro has been a valued Lifteime and Lifetime Movie Network distributor for many years," said Lifetime spokesman Gary Morgenstein. "We are disappointed that the company has chosen not to enter into an agreement for continued cariage of the services and, as always, we are happy to discuss an agreement for carriage of one or more services at any time."

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