FCC Extends Cable Ownership Remarks


The FCC has once again extended the deadline for comments in its proceeding reviewing horizontal and vertical cable ownership limits.

It is the second time activist group Media Access Project has gotten an extension of the deadline, which was originally July 8 for comments and July 25 for replies.

This time, MAP says hurricane Katrina was to blame, with the group spending the last few days helping low power FM's and community wireless stations.

The Sept. 9 deadline for reply comments (the comment deadline was Aug. 9), will now be Sept. 21.

It has been almost four years to the day since the FCC launched a proceeding to review it cable ownership limits, and it is expected to finally weigh in this fall.

The commission had limited cable, DBS, and other multichannnel video programming providers to a 30% share of subs nationwide (horizontal), with no more than 40% of its channels devoted to affiliated programming (vertical).

But the same D.C. Appeals Court that told the FCC it had not sufficiently justified its broadcast ownership limits, remanded the cable limits for essentially the same reason, saying the FCC had not taken into account changes in the program deliver market, i.e. more competition.

Reconsidering the cable limits kind of got lost in the flurry of activity around the FCC's now-remanded media ownership rules and their trip through the courts.

The commission has received almost 20,000 comments and replies in the cable proceeding, though a lot of the recent ones appear to be e-mails from individuals containing the exact same bicylced boilerplate messages beginning: "Giant Cable companies should not be allowed to grow larger," and similar sentiments.

Those sentiments are expected to be shared by MAP, which helped get the FCC's deregulatory broadcast rule rewright remanded.