Kohl to FCC: Tighten Program-Access Rules

Chairman of Senate Antitrust Committee Writes FCC Chairman on Behalf of Independent Programmers

The chairman of the Senate Antitrust Committee wants the Federal Communications Commission to toughen up its program-access rules to make sure that independent programmers don't get squeezed out of the marketplace.

In a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin Monday, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) pushed the commission to set a "prompt and reasonable" deadline for responding to program-access complaints; to come up with a better definition of what constitutes discrimination in carriage disputes; to prevent multichannel-video providers from moving channels to a "disfavored or costly" tier during disputes, and anything else it might need to do.

Kohl also asked the FCC to adopt rules to prevent program tying that disfavors independent programmers.

"Specifically, I urge the FCC to enact rules to prevent programmers affiliated with MVPDs or broadcast networks from unreasonably bundling channels together when such bundling is done in order to deny independent programmers the channel capacity needed to be carried on MVPD systems," he wrote to Martin.

Kohl's letter came the same week that top members of the Independent Film & Television Alliance are in Washington, D.C., to push for more access to programming, including concerns that access to the Internet by independent content providers could be at risk.