Mr. Wheeler, unbundle this bundle: Mediacom files petition with FCC

Mediacom has filed a petition for expedited rulemaking with FCC, claiming that Washington rules have resulted in a dysfunctional current state of affairs in which a small, consolidating, ever-powerful group of content giants are using coercive tactics to force bundles of programming on smaller pay TV operators.

The letter calls for the FCC to prohibit content companies from bundling preferred channels into larger packages of networks an MVPD may not want.

"The policies adopted by Congress and the Commission have fostered a radical transformation of the MVPD marketplace from one dominated by cable operators to one in which the programmers (both broadcast and non-broadcast) clearly have the upper hand and are able to engage in coercive practices such as forced wholesale bundling and retail packaging of massive numbers of channels and unjustified volume discounting," reads the Mediacom memo. "Fortunately, the Commission has the statutory authority to address the problems afflicting the video programming marketplace."

Mediacom's request is largely rhetorical--here's no requirement for the FCC and its chairman, Tom Wheeler to act on it.

But the cable company's call to arms is on the record. The company is asking for some dramatic rule changes. For one, it's proposing that MVPDs should be able to license new channels, or those ranking in the top 20 in terms of ratings performance, on an a la carte basis. And under Mediacom's new rules, content companies would only be able to bundle their wares with a waiver.

Mediacom also wants the practice of restricting subscriber access to Internet programming during negotiations banned,

"The principal practices that the Commission should address are: forced wholesale bundling and retail packaging; interference with consumers' access to programming otherwise freely available on the Internet and to new technologies; and unjustified volume discounting," the filing reads. 

For more:
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:
Court rejects Viacom's bid to throw out Cablevision bundling suit
Murdoch bidding on Time Warner Inc. could reach $91B, analyst says
Mediacom responds to TVFreedom: 'Broadcasters hiding the truth' on retrans

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