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FCC ponders cable limits

Thu, 09/13/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday started reviewing its limits for cable companies, it announced.

The review follows a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision last spring regarding Time Warner. The court said then that the FCC couldn't adequately justify limits it imposed in the 1992 Cable Act and that the FCC hadn't kept up with changes in the multichannel video programming distribution market.

The 1992 Act ordered the FCC to create limits on the number of subscribers a cable operator could serve and on the number of channels a cable operator may devote to affiliated programming, it says.

The FCC intends to look at competition and diversity in the market, it says, and devise new rules that "foster competition and diversity in the video programming market in a way that is consistent with the court's ruling."

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entails creating a record to help the FCC devise limits it can also support in court. The FCC says it will "examine the requirements of the law and review the relevant markets and their evolution since 1992."

The agency is taking comments on such rules as "the ban on an insulated limited partner's sale of video programming to a cable system partnership and the elimination of the single majority shareholder exemption in the cable and broadcast contexts," it says.

The FCC says it's also accepting comments on the pros and cons of "concentration and vertical integration in the MVPD market" and whether it can justify a cap on the the number of subscribers a cable operator can reach.

See www.fcc.gov for more information.

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