News Corp. Wants Out of DIRECTV Conditions

The Federal Communications Commission is taking comments on a petition from News Corp. that asks the agency to eliminate conditions placed on the media giant tied to its former stake in DIRECTV.

News Corp. relinquished that controlling stake to Liberty Media in February. When the company acquired the interest in the satellite TV platform in late 2003, the FCC tied a number of conditions to the deal, such as allowing unaffiliated pay-TV companies access to News Corp.-controlled regional sports programming and local broadcast signals.

In the petition filed last month, News Corp. said the previous conditions should be eliminated since the company doesn't hold an interest in any pay-TV company and its programming services ceased being vertically integrated with any video platform.

In that petition, News Corp. said the FCC "expressly recognized that News Corp. was severing its ownership and control relationships with both DIRECTV and Liberty, and rejected requests to extend the program access conditions instead of allowing them to sunset in accordance with their terms.

"Moreover, the commission agreed that once News Corp. divested its interest in DIRECTV, it would lack any undue advantage over its programming rivals," stated the petition. "Thus, the commission determined that it would not be appropriate, following the transaction, to continue subjecting News Corp. to the program access conditions imposed as part of the News/Hughes Order."

In February, News Corp. exchanged its stake in DIRECTV - along with regional sports networks and $550 million in cash - for the stock Liberty Media holds in the media giant.

The FCC said it would take the first round of comments on News Corp.'s petition on May 1. Reply comments are due May 16.