Barton, Upton 'Disturbed' By Martin's Cable Agenda

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A pair of Republican lawmakers have asked Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to lay off the cable industry when it comes to "additional, unnecessary and burdensome regulations."

Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Fred Upton R- Mich.), the former chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Telecommunications Subcommittee wrote Martin on Tuesday saying they are "disturbed that with respect to the cable industry, you appear to be making proposals that are leading the Commission precisely down the road of intrusive regulation when it is least justified."

They are particularly concerned with Martin's push for a la carte as a way to reduce prices and boost parent's control over content. They also cite Martin's support for mandatory cable carriage of TV station's multicast digital signals, a new plan to require cable to carry TV stations in both digital and analog after the DTV transition, his insistence that the FCC hold to its July 1 deadline for banning integrated cable set-top boxes, reports he plans to reimpose a 30% national cap on one cable company's subs, and plans to allow stations to lease digital capacity to women and minorities, who would then get mandatory cable carriage for the channels they create.

The legislators also urge the commission to extend the video franchise reforms it adopted for telephone companies getting into video to the incumbent cable companies already delivering it in great quantities.It is not the first time the legislators have teamed up to take cable's side on a key issue. Back when they were running the committes, they wrote the FCC to oppose mandating that cable carry all of a TV stations digital multicast channels, an item that was subsequently pulled off the FCC's agenda and has not returned.

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