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Comcast Protests FCC Effort to Rein In Cable Companies

Nov 29, 2007  •  Post A Comment

“Perplexing” is the word Comcast is using to characterize plans by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin to schedule a December FCC vote that would reimpose an overturned cap on any one cable provider reaching more than 30% of cable homes.
Comcast currently reaches about 27% of the nation’s cable homes and would be most directly impacted by any new FCC regulation.
The FCC, worried that one powerful cable provider could be life or death for a channel, implemented a 30% bar in 1992, only to see the limit overturned in 2001 in a court ruling.
The FCC has continued to enforce the limit while reviewing the court action, despite pleas from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to abandon it.
Mr. Martin’s proposal apparently has the support of Mr. Martin and two Democratic commissioners, Michael J. Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. Mr. Martin has told the commissioners he intends to put the cap on the agenda for the FCC’s Dec. 18 meeting.
In a statement today, Comcast executive VP David L. Cohen questioned the need for any cap, citing growing competition between cable, satellite and phone companies for subscribers.
“In an era of increased and intensifying competition among telephone, satellite and cable companies, the case for a cap is even weaker than when the courts rejected it six years ago,” he said.
Mr. Cohen also suggested the FCC’s willingness to let AT&T buy BellSouth early this year and its willingness to approve other mergers has created much of the pressure for cable systems to grow.
“The contemplated action by the FCC is perplexing in that only last year, the same commission approved the largest telecommunications deal in history with the AT&T merger, as well as two other Bell Co. mega-mergers in the past three years,” he said.
“Against the backdrop of these decisions that have strengthened the hands of our Bell competitors, it is unthinkable that the government would constrain the ability of cable companies like Comcast to compete with these colossal companies that have virtually unlimited financial resources,” Mr. Cohen said.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, public interest groups Consumers Union, Free Press and the Consumer Federation of America praised the cap proposal.
“We are encouraged that a bipartisan majority on the commission has recognized the pain consumers feel with cable rates rising more than twice as fast as inflation and cable unfairly discriminating against potential competitors,” said Gene Kimmelman, Consumer Union’s VP for federal and international affairs.

One Comment

  1. I love the expression. Everyone needs to express there own opinion and feel free to hear others. Keep it up 🙂

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