Independent Channels Form Association

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Seven independent channels have formed a new trade group, the Association of Independent Television Programming Networks, to lobby for legislative and regulatory help in getting carriage.

Founding members include The America Channel, ImaginAsian TV, The Tennis Channel and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

The announcement came a day after the Federal Trade Commission approved, unconditionally, the sale of cable operator Adelphia to Time Warner and Comcast, which plans to divvy up the banrupt operator's systems to boost their regoinal clusters.

The announcement also came a day after one of the founding member CEO's, Doron Gershein of the America Channel, argued in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on program access that the government should put conditions on the merger, including setting aside space for independent networks.

Gershein says that Comcast is a programming gatekeeper and that the top operator's exclusion of his channel has led others to follow suit. Comcast counters that the channel's lack of carriage on Comcast and other operators is instead a markeplace comment on its quality.

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