McSlarrow Says He Won't Personalize Differences With Martin


National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow reiterated to reporters that he would not personalize his differences over a host of policies with FCC Chairman Martin--despite several opportunities to do so.

 At a cable forum in Washington this week, McSlarrow was asked ifMartin was on a crusade against his industry. McSlarrow would say no more than the FCC chairman had "not been easy" to work with.

Then, the issue of working with Martin was echoed by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) in a Hill hearing a day later. Barton said that cable operators had approached him suggesting Martin was picking on cable. Martin said he wasn't.

Perhaps.  But he has been critical of cable rates, pushed for the a la carte cable programming the NCTA strongly opposes, and supports a ban on integrated, low-cost cable set-top boxes.

McSlarrow said he thought that Martin's drive for a la carte was iinfluencing other decisions, but would not say whether Martin would have pushed for reinsituting the 30% ownership cap on cable pay households if the industry had agreed to a la carte.

In fact, McSlarrow said he did not oppose a la carte if it was what the marketplace wanted and could support. What he opposed, he said, was government-mandated a la carte by either frontal assault or proxy.

If the FCC did try to reimpose the cap, which was invalidated by the courts, McSlarrow said he did not think it would stand another court challenge. However,  he did not commit NCTA to making that challenge because he said he had not yet seen the 30% cap order and he only knew about it from press accounts () and talking to fCC staffers.

MCslarrow responded to Barton's comments by saying that he would expect the FCC to recognize the new competitive marketplace realities--like facilities-based phone competition, competition for bundled services, and new technologies--but was instead getting "regulatory retreads" like the proposed 30% owernship cap, which he said the FCC seemed to have put on a fast-track, while the broadcast media ownership rules were a couple of years off.

McSlarrow also said NCTA was entering the next phase of a promotion campaign with the tag line: "Cable. Competition Works." It has spent about $4 million on 30-second spots in the Sunday network public affairs shows featuring cable customers extolling the virtues of bundled service, sports programming, and high-speed cable modem service. It is also buying cable spots,