Rural Programming in Jeopardy


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Recently two huge media mergers have been proposed to the FCC – Comcast Cable with TimeWarner Cable, and AT&T Uverse with DirecTV. Depending on FCC requirements, these mergers could squeeze out rural and independent programming – shows like Texas Country Reporter.

Our friend Patrick Gottsch, founder of RFD-TV, explains the situation below. Your online comments to the FCC (comment here) will make a difference.

“Ladies & Gentlemen,

Carriage of the rural, independent programming delivered by RFD-TV and RURAL TV is at stake now with the potential merger of Comcast Cable with Time Warner Cable, and the separate merger of AT&T U-Verse with DIRECTV. If approved by the FCC, these two mergers will control over 54,000,000 homes effecting RFD-TV and RURAL TV viewers in all 50 states.

Let me be clear – we are NOT opposed to these mergers, at this time. Instead, we are working hard to raise the level of awareness of the plight of rural, independent programming in Washington, DC, and how we can insure that our channels are treated fairly with these mergers so that rural interests are protected. In May, I testified before Congress, and met separately with both the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) and the DOJ (Department of Justice). All were very interested in the potential effect of these mergers on rural America.

These same people are now reviewing the potential mergers between Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable, along with the pending merger of AT&T with DIRECTV. This is a big deal, and will essentially determine RFD-TV and RURAL TV’s carriage for the next several years on all these cable and satellite systems.

At this time, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) wants to get comments from the public. Here is your chance to really make a difference, and make your statement in support of RFD-TV and rural programming. There is a short and simple process to register your comments directly to the FCC.

I ask that you do this without delay, as there will be a limit to the time for public comment. Each and every comment takes us one step closer to insuring that RFD-TV and RURAL TV are carried post merger(s).

Note – Remember this is FCC Proceeding Number 14-57 – Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable. Make sure that 14-57 is in the first line on your FCC form.

Comcast has been removing RFD-TV from many of their cable systems over the last year. Mr. David Cohen, VP at Comcast, explained the dropping of RFD-TV in Colorado and New Mexico in August/2013 in the House Judiciary Hearing on the merger by stating that Comcast is “primarily an urban-cluster cable company”. That did not sit well with the rural Congressmen on the panel. Mr. Cohen gave no explanation for adding Al Jazeera America two days after taking RFD-TV down on those same Colorado and New Mexico cable systems, or for carrying BBC World News as an independent channel on all their systems. I also testified at that same hearing, and asked the rhetorical question “Can’t there be room for at least one channel that serves the interests of rural America”?

Together, we can get this done and ensure that rural programming is distributed on cable for years to come. Breaking news on this matter will be announced on all our channels – RFD-TV, RURAL TV, FamilyNet, and RURAL RADIO on SiriusXM channel 80, and through our e-mailed weekly newsletter.

Thanks so much for your support. I apologize for all of us having to go through all this, but the attitudes of these urban-based media executives make this all necessary. We must stand up, now, to make sure that a wall is not built between urban and rural America.

Patrick Gottsch Founder Rural Media Group, Inc.

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