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No appeal on cable-cap decision

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

In another boon for AT&T, the Federal Communications Commission said last week that it won’t appeal a recent federal appeals court decision rejecting an agency rule barring cable operators from owning systems reaching more than 30 percent of the nation’s multichannel TV subscribers.
The cap is an issue for AT&T because its acquisition of MediaOne Group last year gave it interests in systems reaching more than 40 percent of the nation’s homes-and the FCC conditioned its approval of the deal on AT&T divesting enough interests to comply with the regulation.
But in the wake of the court’s March 2 decision, the FCC stayed the divestiture requirements.
However, a coalition of watchdog groups led by the Center for Media Education and the Consumer Federation of America last week pleaded with the court to reconsider.
An AT&T spokesperson said the FCC’s decision not to appeal was “reasonable.”
On a related front, the FCC last week said it had launched a review to determine what to do about the divestiture requirements in the wake of the court’s ruling, with comments from the public due May 11.
In addition, an FCC spokesman said the agency is planning a review of the cap and its rationale in the wake of the court’s criticism.