FCC Barred From Disclosing TV Contracts in Comcast ReviewAndrew Zajac and Todd Shields
A federal appeals court blocked the Federal Communications Commission from ordering the disclosure of programming contracts as part of the U.S. government’s review of Comcast Corp.’s takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc.
The court sided with media companies, which warned that making the contracts public would put them at a competitive disadvantage. The FCC disclosure requirement was put on hold pending a court review of a lawsuit filed this month by CBS Corp. and other media companies seeking to block release of the contracts.
The FCC’s review of the $45.2 billion Comcast-Time Warner deal still can proceed, according to the court’s order suspending the commission’s edict on contract disclosure.
“The agency has access to the relevant documents at issue in this matter and can continue to evaluate the proposed merger during the stay,” according to the court.
At issue is who gets to see documents showing fees paid by the cable providers to the media companies that provide programming.
“The stay order deals with a procedural matter that has never had anything to do with the substance of our transaction” and the FCC can continue its review, Sena Fitzmaurice, spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Comcast, said in an e-mailed statement.
Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, declined to comment on the ruling.
The FCC voted Nov. 10 to allow interested parties to review the contracts. It suspended that access for seven days to give the media companies time to seek court review.
The Washington appeals court issued a further delay on Nov. 14 to collect arguments for or against a longer postponement.
The disclosure requirement also would apply to the FCC’s review of AT&T Inc.’s acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV.
Michael Balmoris, a spokesman for Dallas-based AT&T, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on today’s ruling.
The case is CBS v. FCC, 14-1242, United State Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).
To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.
If you believe that you may have received this message in error please let us know.