ACA: Don’t let News Corp. out of DirecTV conditions

Fri, 05/02/2008 - 8:33am
Mike Robuck

The American Cable Association (ACA) has formally filed its opposition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over News Corp.’s effort to get out of the conditions imposed upon the company by the FCC when it purchased DirecTV back in 2003.

DirecTV has since been sold to John Malone-led Liberty Media, which prompted News Corp. to petition the FCC on March 11 to remove the conditions. The terms of the FCC’s original conditions are not set to expire until 2010.

In its filing of opposition, the ACA wrote that the “failure to deny the petition would erode the substantial public interest benefits that have accrued, and will continue to do so throughout the full term of those conditions.” The News Corp. and DirecTV conditions continue to advance the public interest by protecting competition by maintaining access to “must-have” programming, and by avoiding temporary foreclosures and the disruption of customer viewing patterns, according to the ACA. The ACA also contended that the conditions have not resulted in any appreciable harm to News Corp.

“News Corp.’s efforts to change the rules long after the game has started are certainly unreasonable,” said Matthew M. Polka, ACA president and CEO, “but its attempts to deceive the Commission and suppress their true intent to skirt the conditions of the previous order is unforgivable. For the entire year leading up to the 2008 sale of DirecTV, News Corp. maintained it would not ask for the conditions of the 2004 Order to be modified, but before the ink had even dried they had filed a petition with the Commission asking for the conditions to be modified – a blatant manipulation of the process.

“This behavior undermines the Commission’s authority and the public interest the 2004 Order has successfully advanced. The Commission must not stand for it and unquestionably should not reward it.”

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