NCTA Chief Eyes Changes in Regulatory Structure

Jun 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

As lawmakers begin a massive rewrite of the nation’s telecommunications law this year, cable TV operators want them to consider eliminating much of the power that local franchising authorities currently hold over the industry — particularly when it comes to franchise renewals and system sales.

That was the word Tuesday from Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. “The existing federal framework allocates some regulatory tasks to the FCC, some to state government and some to local governments,” Mr. McSlarrow said in a speech to the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club. “It is time to take a fresh look at that division of labor in light of the new technology.”

Under one possible reallocation of authority suggested by Mr. McSlarrow, local governments could continue regulating where cable lays its wires. “But transfers and renewals in a competitive video environment might make less sense on a hamlet-by-hamlet basis,” he said.

Mr. McSlarrow also said all players providing multichannel services — including direct broadcast satellite and telephone companies — should be subject to the same regulatory obligations. “Fair competition also requires that like services pay equivalent fees and taxes,” he said.