Independent Networks, ACA Speak Out Against Program Tying

New Group Comprises WealthTV, HD Net, Horror Channel Among Others.
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A group calling itself the National Association of Independent Networks (NAIN) is teaming with the American Cable Association (ACA) to oppose so-called "program tying" by cable content suppliers.

 In announcing the formation of the group, which so far comprises WealthTV, HD Net, the Hispanic Information & Telecommunications Network, and The Horror Channel, WealthTV President Charles Herring said the group had a meeting with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and mad the rounds of Capitol Hill to make their case for what they call "fair cable and satellite access."

 Martin said in a CNBC interview Thursday that the FCC's inclination is to stay out of independent retransmission consent negotiations between cable operators and TV station owners--one of the negotiations NAIN and the smaller cable operators represented by the ACA are concerned with.

 "today television programming is provided by and access is limited to, primarily a small number of large media companies that control distribution platforms and/or possess multiple broadcast affiliates, giving them special negotiating powers and access, at the expense of independent networks, hurting the television consumer," the group argues on its newly minted Web site.

 But Martin has also pushed for untying programming at the retail and wholesale level, arguing it will lead to greater program choice and lower cable and satellite bills.

 The FCC is currently considering possible changes to its rules on access to multichannel video programming, which has encourage groups like ACA and now NAIN to press their case.