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US: FCC says programmers are overreacting in privacy requests

 |  November 18, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission submitted a filing with the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Tuesday urging the court to ignore programmers’ “overheated rhetoric” in their fight to keep their programming contracts private.

The FCC has been taken to court by the programmers, which include CBS and Disney, which were ordered to make their programming contracts public as part of the FCC’s review of major media mergers. The watchdog claims that those contracts are crucial for public commenters to accurately assess the possible effects of those mergers, which are Comcast’s planned takeover of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV.

The FCC says outsider comments on those contracts “will be critical to the agency’s review of the pending mergers.”

The programmers, however, argue that the contracts contain market sensitive information and making them public could mean a loss of leverage in future contract negotiations.

Comcast issued its own filing with Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications agreeing with the FCC; AT&T reportedly issued a similar filing with the court as well.

Reports say Comcast argues that if the court does not permit the release of those contracts it would “unjustifiably delay the substantial public interest benefits” of its proposed merger.

Dish Network issued its own filing, agreeing that the contracts “are key to assessing the competitive effects” of the transactions.

The programmers, headed by the National Association of Broadcasters, are expected to file their own briefs Wednesday in response to those filed Tuesday.

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