Opposition mounts against Martin’s cable plan

Tue, 11/20/2007 - 8:32am
Brian Santo

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s attempt to gain broader regulatory authority over the cable industry is being met with increasing resistance.

Much of the pushback is coming from two groups: free-market advocates and broadcasters with small-but-devoted viewership (and their viewers).

Free-market groups tend to align with the current Republican administration, but opposing Martin’s maneuver are the Heritage Foundation and the Progress & Freedom Foundation. James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation compared Martin’s power grab with Pervez Musharraf’s in Pakistan.

Twenty House Republicans recently sent a letter to Martin expressing their reservations about his course of action, though not outright opposing it.

Meanwhile, the small-broadcaster advocates expressing opposition to the Martin plan include the Faith & Family Broadcasting Coalition, the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW), the League of Rural Voters and the Hispanic Federation.

The concerns are that any number of regulations that Martin has floated – including multi-cast must-carry, leased access and a la carte pricing – will undercut small and minority-owned broadcasters and end up denying their viewers.

Though Martin has stated that he wouldn’t use the authority he gains to push a la carte, many opponents of his regulatory plans have either not heard his denial or don’t believe it.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson weighed in on the subject in a statement, in which he said: “It is deeply disturbing to learn from the news media that the FCC is considering using an antiquated legal rule to advance what is widely seen by civil rights leaders as an anti-diversity agenda. 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.”


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