Small Cable Chimes in on News Corp. Conditions Request

Small cable interests had some opinions on News Corp.'s effort to escape conditions placed on its DIRECTV acquisition in 2003, provisions that involve pay-TV competitor access to programming controlled by the media giant.

News Corp. has approached the Federal Communications Commission about the conditions tied to its deal for the satellite TV service. The company sold its controlling stake in DIRECTV to Liberty Media earlier in the year. And it has told the commission that it should no longer be tied to conditions that were part of its 2003 transaction.

The conditions are set to expire in 2010.

In its filing on the matter, the American Cable Association, which represents small, independent cable operators, said a granting of the News Corp. petition would erode the benefits gained from the conditions. The association said the conditions have protected competition by allowing for pay-TV company access to "must have" programming.

Also, the conditions have not resulted in any appreciable harm to News Corp., ACA said in its comments filed Thursday.

"News Corp's efforts to change the rules long after the game has started is certainly unreasonable," Matt Polka, ACA president and CEO, said in a statement. "But its attempts to deceive the commission and suppress their true intent to skirt the conditions of the previous order is unforgivable."