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FCC Approves Cap on Cable Company Size
|21 декабря 2007|
In another policy move that may further annoy the cable industry, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a limit on the size of a cable operator.At its open meeting, the FCC put into place a cap that prevents any MSO from serving more than 30 percent of pay-TV customers nationwide. FCC Chairman Kevin MARTIN and the commission's two Democrats, Jonathan ADELSTEIN and Michael COPPS, voted for the measure.
Robert MCDOWELL and Deborah Taylor TATE, who along with Martin make up the agency's Republican majority, cast the two votes against the item. McDowell predicted that a federal court would overturn the mandate. In 2001, an appeals court struck down the same cap, sending the matter back to the FCC for review.
Martin said a cap on cable company size would ensure "that no cable operator or group of cable operators can unfairly impede, either because of the size of any individual cable operator or because of joint actions by a group of operators of sufficient size, the flow of video programming from the video programmer to the consumer."
Comcast would be the only MSO impacted by a cap. The company serves more than 24 million basic customers. The next biggest operator, Time Warner Cable, serves more than 13.3 million basic subscribers.
In a statement, Comcast Executive Vice President David COHEN criticized the cap, saying, "the record simply does not support the divided commission vote to impose the same ownership cap that the D.C. Circuit ruled unconstitutional over six years ago when there was a lot less competition in the video marketplace.
"It is also perverse to see the commission approving huge mergers by the Bell companies while now telling cable companies, who compete toe-to-toe with the Bells to offer consumers a real choice for video, internet and phone services, that they may not also grow larger and achieve the same efficiencies," he added.
Cohen also said the company is " highly confident that the federal courts will agree that the commission's decision is not supported by the record and that this cap is unconstitutional."
Kyle MCSLARROW of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association said competition among satellite TV, telco video platforms and cable has increased since the last time the FCC attempted a cap. "We are confident that a court will again reject conclusions driven by a political agenda to target the cable industry that are completely at odds with the realities of a dynamic and competitive marketplace that is providing greater consumer choice and value," he said
Martin has irritated cable with mandates unpopular throughout the business. He attempted, and failed, to obtain language demonstrating the industry's dominance for a report on pay-TV competition, a move that could've put the business under tight regulation. Martin also has attempted to force MSOs to adopt a la carte programming options for consumers.