FCC moves to calm programmers' fears that shared deal info will be leaked

The FCC has announced a series of privacy protections, designed to allay the fears of programmers that deal info they share as part of the commission's ongoing pay-TV merger reviews will be leaked.

In a blog post issued by the Federal Communications Commission, bureau chief Bill Lake and general counsel Jon Sallet outlined what they described as "protections for the Merger Applicants' programming contracts, retransmission agreements, and other related materials."

The procedures have been employed before, Lake and Sallet note. "This process has been used successfully to protect extremely sensitive information, including that of parties not directly involved in a transaction under review. For example, in both the Cingular/AT&T Wireless and AT&T/T-Mobile transactions, the Commission received from third parties detailed subscriber, pricing, and revenue data (including billing records)."

As part of the ongoing regulatory review of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE: T) proposed $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), the FCC has requested detailed information on the respective pay-TV company's program licensing agreements.

The FCC has deemed this information essential for vetting various competitive issues, but programmers have expressed grave reservations about providing this information.

For more:
- read this FCC blog post
- read this Wall Street Journal story

Related links:
FCC stops 'shot clock' on Comcast-TWC review to consider more comments
Comcast says merger foes guided by self-interest, not consumer benefit
When Cohen attacks: Comcast exec lays into merger critics at commentary deadline
Comcast-TWC input period ends: 64K comments received, 65 groups urge rejection

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