It looks like operators wanting to carry PBS Kids Sprout VOD content will have to use Comcast Media Center going forward. The wholly owned Comcast subsidiary will be the sole distribution vehicle for the Comcast jv’s VOD programming. RCN currently uses TVN for VOD transport of Sprout. It argued that such a move is evidence of the control cable ops can wield over "must have" programming and repeated its call for safeguard conditions for the proposed Adelphia transaction, according to a letter sent to FCC commissioners Fri. "Less than a year after negotiating access to the PBS Kids Sprout content…a new transport agreement will have to be negotiated, and equipment installed, with under 60 days to complete," RCN said. Negotiations over the move to CMC are ongoing, and we’re told the timeframe is flexible. "RCN’s filing is not germane to the FCC’s review of the Adelphia transactions, which will accelerate the availability of advanced broadband services and offer significant benefits for consumers," Comcast said. The shift to CMC, which applies to all distributors, has no affect on the cost of Sprout programming. RCN said Sprout is the only Comcast-backed content with a CMC requirement. Sprout is the hottest VOD property owned by Comcast, with 80mln+ total views in its 1st year of VOD distribution. RCN says its VOD usage dropped by 83% during the 6 months or so last year that it lost PBS Kids VOD while negotiating for Sprout. — RCN’s letter also featured many of its usual program access gripes, several of them directed at In Demand, which is owned by Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. For example, it says it hasn’t been able to get a price for Howard Stern’s VOD channel. Of course, no RCN filing is ever complete without a reference to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Even though the overbuilder has a deal for the RSN through Sept and hasn’t even started renewal negotiations, it made sure to point out that it worries Comcast could withhold the net.

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