On his way out the door, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced fines against nine cable companies for failing to adequately respond to an FCC request for information regarding the shifting of channels from the analog to the digital tier.

Consumers Union, individual cable subscribers and other consumer groups insist it is unfair that cable companies have been removing channels from the analog tier and continue to charge the same amount of money – or more – for providing fewer channels.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau sent a letter of inquiry (LOI) to more than a dozen cable companies. Several of those companies were considered non-responsive, either not replying to the LOI or failing to provide an adequate response.

So the FCC has levied fines against several MSOs, reportedly including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks and Harron – not for moving the channels, but for failing to respond to the LOI.

Martin announced the fines in a letter to Senators Jay Rockefeller and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who sit on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees communications industry issues.

In his letter, Martin once again reiterated his frequent complaint about cable prices having accelerated faster than inflation over the last 15 years or so.

The cable industry’s response to Martin’s campaign against rising cable prices has been consistent: Cable has provided ever more channels over that span of time. In other words, price isn’t the issue; the issue is price per channel.

Price per channel is the issue Consumers Union is raising an issue to which cable has yet to respond, either directly to consumers or to the FCC, in the FCC’s opinion.

Martin’s resignation from the FCC is effective today.

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