FCC Makes News Corp./DirecTV Deal Official

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From our friends at SkyReport.com

The Federal Communications Commission made it official what it confirmed in December: Its conditioned approval of News Corp.'s takeover of DirecTV and Hughes.

On Wednesday, the FCC released the formal order detailing its approval of the transaction. In December, most of the commissioners approved the deal, and the Wednesday release of the 228-page order is more of a formality. (The order can be found on the FCC Web site: http://www.fcc.gov.)

As part of its OK, the FCC conditioned that News Corp. cannot offer existing or future national and regional programming on an exclusive basis to any pay-TV service. And it must continue to make services available to any pay-TV provider on a non-exclusive basis with non-discriminatory terms and conditions.

Also, DirecTV cannot enter into an exclusive distribution arrangement with an affiliated programmer, such as News Corp. and Fox. However, DirecTV may continue to compete for programming that is offered on an exclusive basis by unaffiliated program rights holders, such as the NFL and its NFL Sunday Ticket.

The FCC condition also requires arbitration to solve a programming carriage skirmish. But News Corp. will be forced to allow a competing pay-TV service to continue carriage of Fox regional sports programming under the same terms and conditions covered in an expired contract while the dispute is being settled. The rule doesn't apply if the dispute is a first-time request for RSN carriage by a competing pay-TV provider.

The commission's three Republicans voted for the deal, while the panel's two Democrats voted against the transaction.
 
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