News Corp.'s competitors and critics are full of ideas for conditions they
say should accompany the government's approval of the company's bid to control
DirecTV Inc. -- those that don't want to block the deal outright.
The National Association of Broadcasters is urging the Federal Communications
Commission to prohibit News Corp. from transmitting its Fox network feed over
DirecTV in any market already served by a Fox affiliate, to insist that News
Corp.'s pledge not to favor Fox pay TV programming on DirecTV or withhold it
from competing cable operators be duplicated for broadcast programming and to
require DirecTV to carry local broadcast channels in all 210 markets by Jan.
The NAB said the conditions are necessary because News Corp. will have a "strong
economic incentive" to bypass local Fox broadcasting affiliates and replace them
with a national Fox programming feed for all DirecTV subscribers.
The NAB's suggestions were included in comments on the merger submitted to the
Some cable operators want demands placed on News Corp., too. Advance/Newhouse COmmunications,
Cox Communications Inc., Insight Communications Co. Inc. and Cable One Inc. urged the FCC to impose conditions that would prevent
News Corp. from using its leverage over local systems to demand higher prices
for Fox programming.
The cable companies have not spelled out conditions they think would suffice,
but they said demand for Fox programming is great enough that operators will be
powerless to reject News Corp.'s demands because the immediate loss of license fees
from systems that refuse to carry Fox programming will be more than offset by
boosts in DirecTV membership by subscribers who cancel their cable connections
and switch to the satellite carrier.
Public broadcasters asked the FCC to clarify that no local stations can be
carried on the DBS operator's so-called wing satellite that can be only received
via a second dish.
The second wish of the Association of Public Television Stations was to seek
a commission declaration that DirecTV is obligated to carry digital
broadcasters' entire multicast lineup.
The Center for Digital Democracy and the American Cable Association called
for the deal to be blocked on grounds that the company's combined holdings of
broadcast and pay TV distribution, coupled with its popular programming networks,
will have unprecedented power to dictate expensive terms to local operators and