FCC Aides Unclear On Cable-Data Holdup

Aides to Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps, Republican Robert McDowell Can’t Explain Four Months of Inactivity on 70/70 Issue

Aides to Democratic Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps and Republican Robert McDowell were in agreement on one thing: Neither knows what the holdup is in the FCC's promised cable-data-collection effort.

It has been four months since the FCC proposed giving cable operators 60 days to cough up data on their subscriber and homes-passed numbers. That came after the agency was criticized for preparing to conclude that the cable industry was ripe for more regulation based on its conclusion that the industry passed the so-called 70/70 test (when more than 70% of people who had access to cable were buying the service).

That conclusion was questioned -- it was based on a single survey source -- and the FCC agreed to collect more information from the industry, suggesting that there was some sense of urgency to getting the new information.

Neither Rick Chessen, senior legal advisor to Copps, nor Christina Pauze, legal advisor to McDowell, could give any timetable for when the FCC would even send out the forms, after which the operators would presumably still have 60 days to reply.

"Whenever you create a new form, it is necessary to work with industry and OMB to insure you are gathering information in an appropriate way so that we can minimize the burden on industry for information collection," said FCC spokesperson Mary Diamond.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association vice president and deputy general counsel Diane Burstein reiterated that the industry was ready to comply whenever the FCC gave it the ground rules.

NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow has said before that the industry was ready to make its case to the FCC, as it has before, that the 70% figure is too high given that surveys have shown that the share of eyeballs claimed by competitive multichannel providers Dish Network and DirecTV have been rising.


Copps Votes Against XM-Sirius Merger

FCC tally: chairman Kevin Martin, commissioner Robert McDowell for; commissioner Michael Copps against; commissioner Jonathan Adelstein eyes tougher conditions; no comment from commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate.