Christian television channel NRBTV recently filed comments with the FCC in opposition to the proposed merger of Charter Communications, Inc. (“Charter”), Time Warner Cable, Inc. (“TWC”), and Advance/Newhouse Partnership (“Bright House”).
Such a merger, NRBTV stated, "will severely harm the dissemination of educational television to the public, depriving consumers of countless independent voices that they might otherwise not hear."
More specifically, non-commercial educational (NCE) programmers seeking carriage will suffer because the merged entity will collectively control a large share of cable systems nationwide and that increased marketplace dominance will give it even less incentive to carry these kinds of channels. Ultimately, NRBTV noted, there will be fewer alternatives for educational channels to turn to due to capacity issues or cost. Educational programmers, and the public they serve, will ultimately lose in this scenario.
"The Merger will further marginalize NCE programmers, and create new barriers to delivering such programming via cable systems," the channel insisted.
Drawing from its own experiences, NRBTV shared how its numerous entreaties to Charter, Time Warner, and Bright House have been met with a "brick wall of silence."
"None of the providers will even call NRBTV back [...] let alone take at least some time to explain why NRBTV is not being carried," it noted. "The Merger will only embolden and exacerbate the silence of the MVPDs and nonbroadcast content providers like NRBTV will be left out of the carriage landscape even longer."
While NRBTV respectfully urged the Commission to deny the Merger, it said a decision to approve the Merger should be accompanied by a requirement for Charter/TWC/Bright House to set aside 4-7% of its available capacity for NCE channels. The Commission should also limit how much the merged entity can charge for the use of the channel.
"This is the only way to ensure that NCE channels have a chance of gaining carriage on cable systems and accessing these subscribers," NRBTV stated. "As illustrated with the satellite set-aside, NCE programmers need this intervention because their bargaining power is virtually non-existent, and cable providers have no incentive to help them out."
NRBTV’s full public comment is available here.