US: ACA warns DOJ against Disney’s Fox RSN divestitures

The American Cable Association (ACA) has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to bar Disney from selling Fox’s regional sports networks to any in-market, big-four TV station or MVPD, saying it would raise pay TV prices and create new antitrust problems.

In June, the DOJ signed off on Disney’s US$71.3 billion purchase of most of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets with the requirement that Disney divest Fox’s 22 regional sports networks.

At the time, the agency stated that without the divestitures, the deal would likely result in higher prices for cable sports programming licensed to MVPDs in local markets.

In a letter submitted to the DOJ Monday, October 15, as part of the agency’s Tunney Act review, the ACA claimed allowing an ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox station the same local market as the RSN to purchase it would create a similar issue the department found with Disney owning them. Operators would run into negotiation problems when one entity could potentially blackout two sets of must-have programming, resulting in a hike in MVPD licensing fees, the trade group says.

“Losing both sets of programming simultaneously is far worse than losing each set of programming individually,” ACA wrote.

Full Content: HWG

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