Appeals court stays FCC's plan to disclose programmers' contracts with pay-TV operators

The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. has agreed to hear arguments from major media conglomerates that the FCC's plan to disclose their contracts with pay-TV operators could hurt their leverage in future carriage negotiations.

The court has stayed the Federal Communications Commission's execution of the plan, which would have taken effect Monday.

The stay is temporary, giving the court a "sufficient opportunity to consider the merits" of the programmers' complaints.

As part of its ongoing review of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE: T) $49 billion purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), the FCC's Media Bureau decided to disclose the documents, with some controlled access, ruling that the information was relevant to the regulatory process.

The Media Bureau says it would limit access to the documents to "a very restricted category of people" and would exclude anyone involved in the negotiation of the contracts. The data would be destroyed following completion of the regulatory process, the FCC body added.

For more:
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

Related links:
FCC set to unveil pay-TV programming deals on Nov. 17
FCC denies programmers' plea to limit document access during merger reviews
FCC pauses shot clock on AT&T-DirecTV merger, as Andreessen and Cuban offer their support
Obama tells FCC to take Title II path

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