ACA, indie programmers tell FCC’s Pai to make channel unbundling a priority

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The ACA wants the FCC to restrict large pay-TV operators from entering into unconditional “most favored nation” contracts with programmers.

Seizing the day on regime change at the FCC, the American Cable Association has joined several indie programmers in asking the agency to make the unbundling of channels a top priority. 

The ACA and its partners say the FCC should restrict large pay-TV operators from entering into unconditional “most favored nation” (MFN) contracts with programmers. The group also wants the FCC to examine MFN demands from broadcasters, as well as to restrict “unreasonable” alternative distribution method (ADM) deals. 

These dealmaking schemes raise the price of programming for smaller MVPDs, squeeze indie programmers out of the marketplace, and harm the FCC’s quest for diversity, the ACA argues.

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"The FCC's proposed regulations of unconditional MFN and unreasonable ADM provisions can represent positive steps towards improving the availability of independent programming,” said ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka, in a statement. 

“The diversity interests identified by the FCC, however, cannot be meaningfully protected without regulations addressing the unreasonable bundling practices of large programmers. ACA urges the FCC to include regulations limiting forced bundling by programmers in the rules adopted through this proceeding,” he added. 

RELATED: Cable One exec: Congress must ‘repeal and replace’ retrans rules

The ACA joined idie programmers MavTV, Motorsports Network, One America News Network and Ride TV in petitioning the FCC. The agency is in transition, with Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai taking over as chairman for Democrat Tom Wheeler. 

With a new chairman stepping in, it is a busy time for lobbying orgs like the ACA, which earlier this week sent another round of communications volleys, urging the agency not to relax broadcast station ownership rules. 

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