No one knows what will be on the FCC‘s Dec 18 open meeting agenda except FCC chmn Kevin Martin (and even he’s had to pull an item or 2 before), but there is scuttle around DC that he would like to include an item on program unbundling/retrans. Even if it doesn’t make the program, there’s plenty of chatter over what appears to be an unbundling proposal from Cablevision. Cablevision vp, legal and regulatory affairs Michael Olsen filed with the FCC a copy of an email that was sent to FCC Media Bureau chief Monica Desai and Martin’s media issues adviser Michelle Carey on Sat. The email, bearing the subject line "Language," appears to be some proposed language from Cablevision that would prevent programmers from requiring that their channels reach a certain number of subs, among other things. Asked about the filing, Cablevision issued this statement: "It has been the longstanding view of Charles Dolan and Cablevision that programmers should not be able to withhold their programming from cable, satellite and telco distributors unless it is carried in a designated tier. We believe that programming should be sold on a per-viewing-subscriber basis, and not be required to be distributed to all customers as a condition of carriage." In other words, CVC is saying it doesn’t think programmers should be able to require that their channel be carried on a particular tier of service, such as expanded basic. The text of the email sent to the FCC: "No cable programming vendor or broadcast station electing retransmission consent for carriage on a cable system shall enforce or execute any provision in a contract with an MVPD that directly or indirectly—(a)sets as a condition of carriage the number of viewing subscribers (whether such number is stated as a total number of viewing subscribers or a percentage of an MVPD’s video subscribers), (b)prescribes the service tier, package or level where such programming or station must be carried (c)sets a single rate other than a rate per viewing subscriber (regardless of the tier, package, volume or level of carriage), or (d) otherwise restricts, is intended to restrict, or has the effect of restricting, the MVPD’s packaging or pricing of such programming or stations. All such restrictions in existing contracts are null and void." According to another FCC filing, Cablevision’s Chuck and Jim Dolan and COO Tom Rutledge, as well as Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso, met Fri with Martin and commissioners Robert McDowell, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps. They discussed issues presented by the retrans consent scheme, the benefits of establishing a retrans quiet period and the terrestrial exemption to the program access rules, according to the filing. Verizon has complained about CVC refusing to sell it the HD feed of its terrestrially delivered MSG regional sports net; while Cablevision has argued the terrestrial exemption needs to stay in place. Mediacom did not comment beyond the filing.

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