You know that you’ve been on a roll heading over to the FCC when the nice young woman at the front desk looks at you after a mere week of not “darkening her doorway” and says, “Where have you been lately?” The same goes for the guard who already knows that your shoes are going to set off his metal detector because they always do and you’ve gone through his machine nearly daily. I can only imagine the exchanges with Mike Romano and his team, who spend far more time at the FCC than I do!
Today’s adventure was to talk about video issues with the general counsel of the FCC, particularly those issues that are very top of mind given the proposed Charter merger under consideration. I joined the INCOMPAS team, as well as the CEO of Fiber Rocket in Detroit, for the discussions. I appreciated the opportunity to share the programming challenges NTCA members face even though video remains an important offering in a bundled package and is also a key driver of broadband deployment. To that end, it was appropriate that I shared why NTCA members are concerned about the proposed transaction between TWC and Charter.
There are so many factors in play, including contract terms, the amount of content that a provider needs to take from program providers (even content that nobody really wants), the lack of control on distribution, and certainly the crazy increases in annual contracts for programming that a provider may want and need for their lineup—and even those they don’t want but need to take as part of the negotiations.
We shared some thoughts with the general counsel and his team on possible new ways to create enough scope and scale in the video market to move the needle. We’ll see where these talks can take us.