The American Cable Association  has petitioned the FCC  to adopt rules that would prevent networks from forcing bundles on network operators, as the FCC reviews retransmission consent and program tying arrangements.
Popular networks commonly force cable operators who want to broadcast that content to also carry other, less-popular channels. Many operators are compelled to take the unwanted channels in order to get the one they do want. Small cable operators, who may be most susceptible to such strong-arm tactics, have long complained about the practice.
Matthew M. Polka, president and CEO of the ACA, said, “It runs contrary to the public interest when programmers leverage their market power in carriage negotiations to force all consumers to take and pay for high-cost and niche programming to receive popular program channels.”
The ACA suggested several changes, including:
* In addition to any bundling arrangements, obligating programmers and broadcasters to offer channels on a standalone basis on reasonable rates, terms and conditions;
* Prohibiting programmers and broadcasters from mandating channel carriage on a specific tier or to a required percentage of subscribers;
* Prohibiting price discrimination against small- and medium-sized cable companies unless the differences are truly cost-based;
* Adjusting the program access and retransmission consent complaint processes to provide for meaningful relief, including continued carriage of a channel while a complaint is pending.
The ACA's nearly 1,100 member companies serve approximately eight million subscribers in all 50 states.
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