NCTA Calls FCC to Abandon Cable Limit

Mar 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to abandon its limit on the maximum number of households any single provider can reach.

As Comcast nears a 30% “horizontal ownership” limit that the FCC has continued to enforce, despite a 2001 court ruling requiring it be reconsidered, NCTA is telling the agency that video competition has made the concerns that originally prompted the rule outdated.

The FCC originally acted to prevent a single cable owner with significant power from exercising life or death over a cable channel.

“These new marketplace conditions demonstrate that traditional cable operators face a level of competition that will prevent any operator from ‘unfairly imped[ing] – the flow of video programming from the video programmer to the consumer,'” NCTA said in comments filed with the FCC.

The FCC implemented the bar in 1992 and has continued enforcing it despite the court ruling. Comcast — which reaches about 27% of households — recently told the FCC that it considered the rule “a relic” “devastated” by video competition changes and now unconstitutional and exceeding the FCC’s statutory authority.

NCTA said that the limit also doesn’t reflect how providers now compete for the triple play of data, phone and data, rather than video alone. A video limit could have the effect of lessening competition for telephone and internet services, it said.

(Editor: Romanelli)