§ 76.1504Rates, terms and conditions for carriage on open video systems.
(a)Reasonable rate principle. An open video system operator shall set rates, terms, and conditions for carriage that are just and reasonable, and are not unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory.
(b)Differences in rates.
(1) An open video system operator may charge different rates to different classes of video programming providers, provided that the bases for such differences are not unjust or unreasonably discriminatory.
(2) An open video system operator shall not impose different rates, terms, or conditions based on the content of the programming to be offered by any unaffiliated video programming provider.
(c)Just and reasonable rate presumption. A strong presumption will apply that carriage rates are just and reasonable for open video system operators where at least one unaffiliated video programming provider, or unaffiliated programming providers as a group, occupy capacity equal to the lesser of one-third of the system capacity or that occupied by the open video system operator and its affiliates, and where any rate complained of is no higher than the average of the rates paid by unaffiliated programmers receiving carriage from the open video system operator.
(d)Examination of rates. Complaints regarding rates shall be limited to video programming providers that have sought carriage on the open video system. If a video programming provider files a complaint against an open video system operator meeting the above just and reasonable rate presumption, the burden of proof will rest with the complainant. If a complaint is filed against an open video system operator that does not meet the just and reasonable rate presumption, the open video system operator will bear the burden of proof to demonstrate, using the principles set forth below, that the carriage rates subject to the complaint are just and reasonable.
(e)Determining just and reasonable rates subject to complaints pursuant to the imputed rate approach or other market based approach. Carriage rates subject to complaint shall be found just and reasonable if one of the two following tests are met:
(1) The imputed rate will reflect what the open video system operator, or its affiliate, “pays” for carriage of its own programming. Use of this approach is appropriate in circumstances where the pricing is applicable to a new market entrant (the open video system operator) that will face competition from an existing incumbent provider (the incumbent cable operator), as opposed to circumstances where the pricing is used to establish a rate for an essential input service that is charged to a competing new entrant by an incumbent provider. With respect to new market entrants, an efficient component pricing model will produce rates that encourage market entry. If the carriage rate to an unaffiliated program provider surpasses what an operator earns from carrying its own programming, the rate can be presumed to exceed a just and reasonable level. An open video system operator's price to its subscribers will be determined by several separate costs components. One general category are those costs related to the creative development and production of programming. A second category are costs associated with packaging various programs for the open video system operator's offering. A third category related to the infrastructure or engineering costs identified with building and maintaining the open video system. Contained in each is a profit allowance attributed to the economic value of each component. When an open video system operator provides only carriage through its infrastructure, however, the programming and packaging flows from the independent program provider, who bears the cost. The open video system operator avoids programming and packaging costs, including profits. These avoided costs should not be reflected in the price charged an independent program provider for carriage. The imputed rate also seeks to recognize the loss of subscribers to the open video system operator's programming package resulting from carrying competing programming.
Note to paragraph (e)(1):
Examples of specific “avoided costs” include:
(1) All amounts paid to studios, syndicators, networks or others, including but not limited to payments for programming and all related rights;
(2) Packaging, including marketing and other fees;
(3) Talent fees; and
(4) A reasonable overhead allowance for affiliated video service support.
(2) An open video system operator can demonstrate that its carriage service rates are just and reasonable through other market based approaches.