Program access rules are critical tools for ensuring that entrants in the video programming marketplace get a fair chance to compete against cable companies which own content as well as a network delivery platform, USTelecom said in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission June 22. The program access rules, adopted in 1992, were set to expire in 2002, and have been extended twice. They are due to lapse Oct. 5, 2012.
The fundamental need for the rules remains despite the vast upheaval in the video marketplace over the past decade. Cable incumbents continue to control must-have programming, including non-replicable and popular regional sports networks (RSN). Access to RSNs and other vertically integrated content is critical, particularly for providers that serve remote and rural areas.
Extending the program access rules is an essential component to supporting the Obama administration’s broadband policies. Lack of access to critical programming makes the prospect of entry into the video market risky, thus discouraging more competition in the marketplace.
“In order to foster this continued competition, it is imperative that the Commission provide local telephone companies with sufficient time to mature in the competitive MVPD marketplace,” the comments said.