NAIN Urging FCC Not To Drop Program Carriage Item From Agenda

NAIN President Charles Herring wants item to be addressed at Dec. 18 meeting

The National Association of Independent Networks (NAIN) called on the FCC Friday not to drop part of its program carriage item from agenda for its Dec. 18 meeting.

According to Charles Herring, president of NAIN and founding member Wealth TV, his group has been meeting with commissioners to try to convince them to proceed with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's planned vote on NAIN's suggested changes to the program access complain process, including putting a shot clock on FCC action. WealthTV has a program access complaint currently being adjudicated by an FCC judge.

While the item was on the meeting agenda released by the FCC Dec. 11, two powerful legislators have suggested he take that and another item off the agenda, and he is circulating that request among the other commissioners.

The agenda change could come today, but the chairman has until just before the meeting to change it.

The vote on the suggested complaint process reforms is bundled--an ironic term given the subject--with a proposed inquiry into whether or not cable programmers should be allowed to dictate the placement of their channels on operators' systems as part of carriage deals.

"The National Association of Independent Networks, NAIN, is urging the Chairman and Commissioners to hold off on lengthy and controversial discussions on wholesale program unbundling and focus on an item that is urgently needed and has broad general consensus, namely carriage access discrimination process reform," said Herring.

Herring also sent an e-mail to Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein Thursday trying to make his case after Herring said he got the sense Copps might be willing to work on preserving the access portion of the item.

"I know it takes courage to take action against such a powerful monopoly but in this case you have the small cable operators and independents working together on an item that will benefit consumers," Herring wrote.

"I know that I don't understand how things work in Washington but doing the right thing should be the same anywhere . I know that the analog to digital conversion process is very important to you, but the time to pass the minimal reform necessary for the survival of Independent voices would not deter you from actions you feel you must take in that area. The President -elect stated that a leader should be able to handle more than one thing at a time. Please do not let this chance go by without doing what you know is right."