NCTA: Carriage, Access, Rate Regs Should Go
Supplementary filing in video competition report says 1992 Cable Act regs no longer necessary
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/9/2011 5:29:38 PM
That is according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's supplementary filing in the FCC's video competition report, which says the FCC should tell Congress that the 1992 Act regs, are no longer necessary to protect consumers or jump-start competition.
That means, says NCTA, that program access, program carriage, and leased access rules are unnecessary. It also argues that the remaining basic-tier rate regulation should go the way of the rest of the rate regs, which were scrapped in the 1996 Communications Act rewrite.
The FCC video competition report is actually a catch-up report covering 2007 through 2010. That report has been further delayed after the FCC said back in April that it needed more and better data, including adding 2010 to the mix.
But however you gather, slice or dice that new information, cable operators are saying the result should be the conclusion that there is a proliferation of competition that has made moot the concerns that drove passage of the re-regulatory 1992 Cable Act, which included that the cable industry was "highly concentrated" and that that concentration was a barrier to entry of new programmers and voices.
"The amount and diversity of video content currently offered to anyone with a high-speed Internet connection by program providers unaffiliated with cable operators is staggering," said NCTA in its filing. "And it is being viewed by millions of consumers on their computers, on their wireless phones, and on their flat screen television sets."
Add in "fierce competition among MVPDs, two large and ubiquitously available DBS companies, and the large incumbent telephone companies - along with the much diminished amount of vertically integrated programming," says NCTA, and it is a no-brainer that the marketplace is competitive and the regs should go the way of the 30% cap on cable subs, which the D.C. court threw out in 2009 saying the FCC had been arbitrary and capricious in setting that limit and "derelict" in not taking satellite sufficiently into account as a competitor.
The FCC's just-released future of media report gives that proliferation argument some space as well, citing similar conclusions by analysts. "In the view of industry analysts, cable continues to face threats from the growth of satellite TV, Internet video services (including free video websites such as hulu.com), the broadcast resilience, and the introduction of Internet TVs, which give consumers the capability to watch online content on a full-size TV without a computer," says the report in a section on cable as a news and information outlet.
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