As part of a marathon public meeting on Thursday that included 13 agenda items, the FCC said
it believes it has the authority to regulate exclusive contracts between pay video/broadband providers and MDU's--multiple dwelling units like apartments buildings or condominiums.
The commission asked for input on its tentative conclusion of authority, and asked for input on whether its approach to regulating those contracts should depend on the market power of the video provider.
Some argue that the exclusive contracts are a consumer-unfriendly barrier to competition, but others say the contracts make it possible for the companies providing the service to continue to compete by allowing them to have some assurance of recovering their capital costs.Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps said there was no reason for MDU dwellers to have a more restricted range of choices than anyone else. The proposal applies to a
.Verizon, for one, has asked the commission to prohibit future exclusive contracts and invalidate current ones, arguing they give incumbent cable operators an unfair advantage over new entrants.
Saying the FCC was right to open the inquiry, Susanne Guyer, Verizon senior VP of federal regulatory affairs, said in a statement that "people shouldn't be denied their choice of cable TV providers simply because they live in an apartment or condo building. Exclusive access deals between building owners or developers and cable companies deny consumers choice and keep cable rates high by blocking competition."Media Access Project praised the inquiry as well but added that access to competition should apply to all communications services, video, voice and data.