[ Text Version ]

fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CS 97-31 CABLE SERVICES ACTION December 18,1997


CS DOCKET NO. 97 - 248

In order to ensure that all providers of multichannel video services have a reasonable opportunity to secure the progarmming they need to satisfy viewers, the Commission has adopted a notice seeking comment on revisions to its program access rules. In enacting the program access provisions of the 1992 Cable Act, Congress expressed its concern that potential competitors to incumbent cable operators were unable to gain access to the programming needed to provide a viable and competitive multichannel alternative to cable.

The program access rules are designed to increase access to video programming for all providers of multichannel video programming by prohibiting unfair or discriminatory practices in the sale of satellite cable programming and satellite broadcast programming distributed by vertically integrated (cable-affiliated) programmers. The rules prohibit unfair and discriminatory practices in the sale of satellite cable and satellite broadcast programming and prohibit or limit the types of exclusive programming contracts that may be entered into between cable operators and vertically-integrated programming vendors.

The Notice seeks comment on amending and adopting both procedural and substantive aspects of the Commission's program access rules, including rules governing the speed of Commission decision making, the discovery of information relevant to possible rule violations, the payment of damages where violations are found to have occurred, and efforts to evade the program access rules. Comment is also sought on issues relating to the purchase of programming by cooperative buying groups. The Notice was issued in response to a petition for rulemaking filed by Ameritech New Media Inc. and issues raised by DirectTV and the Small Cable Business Association.

Key elements of this Notice include seeking comment on:

  • Whether the imposition of damages for program access violations is appropriate and in the public interest, whether the Commission's existing forfeiture procedures are adequate.

  • Whether program access requirements can or should be applied to certain situations where a vertically-integrated programmer moves programming from satellite to terrestrial delivery.

  • What type of financial assurances cooperative buying groups can provide to programming vendors such that joint and several liability of cooperative members is not necessary to protect vendors from financial risks.
Action by the Commission by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 97-415). Chairman, Commissioners.


News Media Contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-2358
Cable Services Bureau Contacts: Steve Broeckaert and Deborah Klein at (202) 418-7200
TTY: (202) 418-7172