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Sky Angel says cable won't play fair with over-the-top distributors

June 26, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Sky Angel can no longer carry Discovery's Animal Planet channel.
Sky Angel can no longer carry Discovery's Animal Planet channel. (Animal Planet )

Sky Angel LLC, a distribution company that delivers content via broadband or "over the top," claims that programmers are resisting doing business with it for fear of upsetting cable and satellite pay-TV distributors.

In written testimony submitted in advance of Wednesday's Future of Video hearing being held by the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Sky Angel Chief Executive Robert Johnson said, "The video distribution marketplace remains willing to engage in anti-competitive tactics in order to harm emerging competitors."

Sky Angel is currently in a fight with programming giant Discovery Communications. Sky Angel suggested that Discovery stopped doing business with it because of concern that traditional pay-TV companies didn't approve of the relationship. Sky Angel filed a complaint against Discovery at the Federal Communications Commission that is currently under review.

Besides Discovery, Sky Angel's Johnson said several programmers "have refused to deal with Sky Angel, saying (or implying) that they want to avoid conflicts within the industry." The only network Johnson names is C-SPAN (a nonprofit network that is owned by major cable companies), which he said entered into a distribution agreement with Sky Angel only to withdraw three days after its programming started to appear on the service.

"Perhaps telling is that C-SPAN is controlled by the cable television industry, which claims that it does not need to be regulated in this area because it can be trusted to do the right thing. No doubt, the fox was quoted as saying much the same on the way to the chicken coop," Johnson said.

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