Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cablevision Proposes Reform of Content Carriage Requirements

Cablevision Systems is proposing a set of regulatory changes that would limit the ability of broadcaster to bundle content with must-carry provisions.

In a filing with the FCC, Cablevision proposed the following:

Forbid tying – end the practice of requiring the carriage of unrelated cable channels, owned by broadcasters, in order to also carry their broadcast networks. This practice has allowed broadcasters, who enjoy free spectrum and other advantages, to raise consumer costs by forcing carriage of their channels of limited interest in exchange for access to major broadcast networks and "must see" programming.

Require transparency – end the practice of allowing broadcasters to keep their prices for carrying broadcast stations secret. Retransmission fees should be public.

Forbid discrimination – allow broadcasters to continue to set the price of carriage, but do not allow them to discriminate among cable and satellite providers based on size or other factors.

"The days of secret pricing that, among other things, requires consumers to pay for additional cable channels before they can receive a broadcast channel should come to an end," said Tom Rutledge, Cablevision's chief operating officer. "Broadcasters should not be able to keep the prices they charge hidden or to discriminate between distributors in a given market. Our simple reforms would end these practices, and we urge the FCC to consider this consumer friendly approach."

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