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Today, the Commission has let its "program access" rules expire. These rules prevented dominant cable providers from using certain programming exclusives to harm their rivals.
The following statement can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
"The FCC's program access rules have been vital in bringing some competition to the video marketplace. Without them, satellite providers like DirecTV, telco video like AT&T's U-Verse TV, and smaller cable systems would not have been able to get off the ground and provide customers the programming they demand. They are still needed to preserve the progress we've made toward video competition.
"What's more, the program access rules are an important part of broadband competition. Even fiber-to-the-home providers like Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS need to offer a video service alongside their fast broadband to be appealing to consumers. By making it harder to compete in the video marketplace, the FCC has made it harder to provide competitive broadband, as well.
"Although the formal order has not been released yet, we have read that the Commission may have decided to give special consideration to important sports programming. If true, this at least shows a recognition that dominant cable systems still have an incentive to leverage access to programming to restrict competition.
"Finally, we note that nothing will prevent the Commission from reinstating the program access rules in full at a later date if competition problems develop."