From our friendas at SkyReport.com
Companies eyeing News Corp.'s pending takeover of Hughes and DirecTV are pressing their concerns at the Federal Communications Commission, including issues they have with carriage of programming controlled by News Corp. and proposed remedies to address their fears.
In a 45-page letter sent to the commission, EchoStar praised a proposed condition that would force News Corp. and Fox to provide programming to a pay-TV provider while a carriage dispute is in arbitration. "In EchoStar's view, an arbitration condition would lack teeth if it did not include a requirement that MVPDs (multichannel video providers) be allowed to continue carrying the programming in question while the dispute is arbitrated," the company said.
EchoStar added, "The absence of regional sports or the local network station from an MVPD's package, even for a short period of time, has a debilitating effect on that distributor's ability to compete in the region in question."
In another development, executives with some of the nation's biggest cable companies recently visited the FCC to discuss the deal. Cox President and CEO James Robbins, Insight CEO Michael Willner, Patrick Butler of the Washington Post Company and other MSO representatives met with two commissioners: Jonathan Adelstein and Kathleen Abernathy.
Just like EchoStar, the company executives expressed concern with News Corp.'s control of a platform provider and its programming slate, and stressed the need for remedies that address "post-transaction incentives to withhold or threaten to withhold must-have Fox programming." That content includes Fox regional sports nets and broadcast stations.
The FCC is expected to issue a decision soon on the News Corp./DirecTV deal, and is rumored to be ready to grant approval of the transaction with conditions.