FCC Cable Dereg Ruling Setback for NAB

The FCC’s sweeping deregulation of cable yesterday by ruling that all systems would be presumed to face “effective competition” came over the objections of the NAB, which is concerned that the deregulated systems will now be able to move broadcast signals out of basic service tiers.

Broadcasters and other opponents of the FCC action “have not pointed to a single instance in which cable operators have even attempted to move broadcast stations … off the basic service,” the FCC said in its 3-2 ruling.

What’s more, it said, the broadcasters have failed to address the fundamental question of whether cable system actually face effective competition.

“Accordingly, we do not believe that they provide a sound basis to retain rules that are no longer justified by marketplace realities and that place unwarranted burdens on cable operators and the commission.”

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said the FCC ruling was out of bounds. “The FCC decision clearly contradicts language expressly written into statute by Congress just six months ago in the satellite TV bill.

“Moreover, it’s disappointing and surprising that as cable customer satisfaction ratings plunge to a record low, the FCC believes it is wise to gut the one protection that allows local municipalities a chance to protect consumers from abusive treatment and consistently skyrocketing rates.”


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