FCC Chief Proposing to End U.S. Rule on Cable Program Sharing

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed to end U.S. rules that require cable companies to share programming with competitors, two agency officials said.

The so-called program access rules would be allowed to expire Oct. 5 under a proposal Genachowski, a Democrat, placed before fellow commissioners today, said the officials who spoke on condition they not be identified because the matter hasn’t been made public.

The rules prohibit cable companies from refusing to share programming they own with competitors such as DirecTV and Dish Network Corp. Both satellite providers asked the FCC to extend the rules to protect their access to content including regional sports networks.

The regulations, imposed 20 years ago to help fledgling services compete against dominant cable companies, aren’t needed now that cable serves less than 60 percent of pay-television households, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a filing. Members of the Washington-based trade group include leading U.S. cable provider Comcast Corp. and No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net