Blackburn’s 70/70 Bill a Reality

Federal Communications Commission Would Be Stripped of Authority to Reregulate Cable Under 70/70 Test

As promised, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), now joined by Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), introduced a bill Thursday to strip the Federal Communications Commission of the authority to reregulate cable under the 70/70 test.

"Like the black-and-white television, Betamax video recorder and the telegraph of yesteryear," Blackburn said, "it is time to retire the FCC's '70/70' authority under current law."

The FCC is currently asking the cable industry for more information on subscribers and households served. It drew back from its initial conclusion that cable had met the 70/70 market-concentration test -- 70% household penetration, 70% subscribership -- that might or might not, depending on whom you ask, give it better justification for widespread cable reregulation.

Among the bill's supporters are the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Americans for Tax Reform.

“We applaud Reps. Blackburn and Towns for introducing this bill that gets rid of an outdated provision allowing the Federal Communications Commission to impose additional rules on cable operators based on the percentage of subscribers served by the industry," American Cable Association president Matthew Polka said.

"It serves no public good to impose more rules and regulations on independent cable companies that are fiercely competing with two satellite-TV operators and that provide advanced video, broadband and phone services to customers living in smaller markets and rural America,” Polka added. “What’s most important is independent cable’s ability to deliver these advanced competitive services, not needless regulation.”