Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder the Rev. Jesse Jackson Monday called "deeply disturbing" Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin's revelation that the FCC was preparing to find that cable had reached a market-power benchmark that could give it more power to regulate cable.
Martin has advocated a number of moves, including unbundling cable programming, lowering leased-access rates and others he said would benefit minorities.
Instead, Jackson said, Martin is trying to use an "antiquated legal rule to advance what is widely seen by civil-rights leaders as an anti-diversity agenda."
When cable's penetration reaches 70% and its subscribership is also 70%, the FCC can promulgate rules to encourage program diversity and competition.
"There is virtually no political support from either progressives or conservatives for such pet policies as a la carte pricing, which would raise prices for consumers and hurt most programmers, or for the various ‘leased-access’ programs that will squeeze out channel space for minority-owned programmers," Jackson said.
"Rather than work through the democratic process in Congress, a bureaucratic agency should not be using a 20-year-old-legal clause to implement wholesale policy changes that hurt consumers and hurt minority television programmers,” he added.