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FCC NRPM Includes Potential Revision of Buying Group Definition - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC NRPM Includes Potential Revision of Buying Group Definition

ACA has been pushing for real-world treatment of NCTC
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According to sources, the further notice of
proposed rulemaking accompanying the FCC's exclusive ban sunset order

will include a proposal to change the FCC's definition of "buying
group" to
allow the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to file program access
complaints without assuming collective liability for all of its members.

The
American Cable Association has been pushing for the change, saying the current
definition does not reflect current industry practices.'

NCTC
is a nonprofit consortium of smaller cable operators who negotiate program
carriage deals as a group in order to get volume discounts.

As
currently defined, a buying group to qualify for standing to file a complaint
has to assume "full liability for payments due to programmers under a
master agreement," even though programmers didn't require that as part of
their contracts.

"With
nearly all small and medium-sized MVPDs dependent on their buying group to
secure rights to cable programming networks," said ACA President Matt Polka
last June, "these operators will receive protection from the program
access rules only to the extent that their buying group is given the same
protections in its dealings with cable-affiliated programmers that individual
MVPDs are given, which is what Congress always intended. The time has come for
the FCC to update its rules by revising its definition of 'buying groups."

The
FCC is now teeing that up for comment and potential revision.

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