ACA calls for conditions on Comcast-TWC merger

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 30 December 2014

The American Cable Association (ACA) has called on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose conditions on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter megamerger, to "create meaningful protections for small and medium-sized cable operators".

ACA has asked for a baseball-style arbitration remedy on Comcast- and Charter-affiliated programmers to address their incentive to charge rates above fair market value, as well as a non-discriminatory access condition to prevent programmers from charging discriminatory rates, terms and conditions.

"ACA's chief goal is for the FCC to make clear that Comcast- and Charter-affiliated programmers are prohibited from demanding rates, terms, and conditions that are discriminatory or higher than fair-market value from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), and that the enforcement mechanisms for these safeguards work, particularly for small and medium-sized MVPDs," said ACA president and CEO Matthew Polka said. "Such remedial conditions have, in the main, provided vital protections to MVPDs in the past, and, with ACA's recommended improvements, must again be imposed by the FCC in this case."

ACA filed its comments with the FCC on 23 December as part of the agency's public interest review of the Comcast-TWC-Charter transaction.

If the merger goes through, Comcast would increase its number of video subscribers from 21.1 million to 31.4 million (including Bright House Networks and Midcontinent Communications), and will gain control of TWC's regional sports networks (RSNs) in New York and Los Angeles, where Comcast already owns the local NBC TV stations. Charter meanwhile would increase the number of video subscribers 4.2 million to up to eight million subscribers (including SpinCo).