In a move that was opposed by the broadcast industry, the Federal Communications Commission has effectively ended its regulation of cable prices.
Philly.com reported Wednesday that the FCC “drove the final stake today into the last vestige of cable price regulation: rules that allowed cities and municipalities to limit the price of barebones ‘basic cable’ and equipment rentals unless a cable company applied for a declaration that it was subject to ‘effective competition’ in that locality. … The FCC gave the cable industry what it wanted: The whole country will now be considered subject to ‘effective competition’ by default, unless a local franchise authority steps forward to argue otherwise.”
TVNewsCheck notes that the ruling “came over the objections of the NAB, which is concerned that the deregulated systems will now be able to move broadcast signals out of basic service tiers.
“Broadcasters and other opponents of the FCC action ‘have not pointed to a single instance in which cable operators have even attempted to move broadcast stations … off the basic service,’ the FCC said in its 3-2 ruling.”
The TVNewsCheck report notes that the FCC responded to the objections of broadcasters saying, “We do not believe that they provide a sound basis to retain rules that are no longer justified by marketplace realities and that place unwarranted burdens on cable operators and the commission.”
The report quotes NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton saying: “The FCC decision clearly contradicts language expressly written into statute by Congress just six months ago in the satellite TV bill.
“Moreover, it’s disappointing and surprising that as cable customer satisfaction ratings plunge to a record low, the FCC believes it is wise to gut the one protection that allows local municipalities a chance to protect consumers from abusive treatment and consistently skyrocketing rates.”