Representatives of ABC, CBS and Fox met with FCC officials recently to push back on a cable operator argument that bundling TV stations with co-owned networks is unfair and a threat to program diversity.
In a series of meetings with commission staffers, related to the FCC’s current notice of inquiry on access to video distribution and its review of the retransmission consent good faith negotiating standard, the broadcast net execs said that as a matter of “competition law and marketplace reality,” the FCC should reject the argument, which it called counterintuitive.
Cable operators want the FCC to deem bundling a de facto violation of good faith bargaining.
The broadcasters say bundling of channels and networks in such negotiations are instead procompetitive and pro-consumer because it reduces transaction costs and allows for new and innovative services. They also add that antitrust doctrine presumes bundling to be pro-competitive, as has the FCC in retrans.
By contrast, they argue that cable operators have shown no empirical evidence that bundling causes harm to consumers or video competitors.
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