FCC readies several cable-related rules

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Although the cable industry is getting scant attention on Capitol Hill, the
Federal Communications Commission is giving the business a lot of scrutiny.

FCC chairman Michael Powell is reviewing the Media Bureau's proposed changes to the
industry's ownership limits and is expected to circulate it to fellow
commissioners for a vote soon.

Other cable issues that will be tackled shortly include plans for broadband-access
regulation, local municipalities' power to set basic rates in the wake of direct-broadcast satellite
growth, and broadcasters' carriage rights for digital signals.

"We're cooking with gas," Media Bureau chief Ken Ferree said during a National Show roundtable with other agency bureau chiefs.

Although the new cable cap was rumored in December to be 45% of multichannel
subscribers, Ferree would not address the specifics of his current ownership
plan or other proposals working their way to the surface.

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