Nice guys finish reg-free

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Continued good behavior is the best way to avoid regulation, two Federal
Communications Commission members and a Bush administration official told the
cable industry Tuesday.

In their minds, that means cable-delivered Internet service must remain free
of obstacles to Web sites and new content offered via the Web.

"In the end, we need to make sure consumers have unfettered access to any Web
site and all of the services," FCC commissioner Kevin Martin said during a luncheon
at the National Show.

Martin, with commissioner Jonathan Adelstein concurring, told cable that
there is little sign so far that cable operators will block access to rival Web
sites or video providers, diminishing the likelihood of anti-discrimination
rules.

"We don't see overwhelming evidence of a problem," Adelstein said. If cable
has a potential problem, it's lingering consumer resentment over the industry's
historic customer-service problems and fear that its sheer size is enough to
override customer preferences, added Bruce Mehlman, Commerce Department
assistant secretary for technology policy. "Cable is a bit like pharmaceutical
companies or Microsoft [Corp.] -- everybody loves the product but feels that the industry is a
big and potentially dangerous player."

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