Cablevision wants FCC program access rules changed

With the Net Neutrality and ownership caps coming to a head, there just seems to be no end of bad blood between the FCC and the cable industry recently. On September 22, Cablevision appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to appeal the FCC's 2007 Order extending the program access rules.

These rules, which the FCC created when it passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act, were designed to prevent content distributors that owned content networks from denying access to other distributors so they could one up other competitors. The FCC wanted to create a competitive market by preventing content distributors from blocking competitor's access to popular programming. In 2007, the FCC opted to extend the current rules for an additional five years.

"More than 15 years ago, Congress took the extraordinary and extremely unusual step of requiring cable companies to sell their programming to competing multichannel video providers, under what they called the program access rules," said Cablevision in a statement. "The goal was to spur multichannel competition by distributors -- even if it came at a great cost -- by taking away the ability for companies to differentiate their products on the basis of innovative programming. The notion of one multichannel video provider is long gone and today, most programming is owned by large companies that are not in the multichannel distribution business. Retaining program access rules in cable is now analogous to requiring NBC to sell individual programs to CBS and ABC so that they will all have the same lineup."

It appears that Cablevision and the cable industry feel they can get the leverage they need to get the access rules changed. Cablevision's latest request, which is also supported by fellow cable MSO Comcast, comes only a few weeks after the same court ruled that the FCC could not require any cable operator to own more than 30 percent of the cable market.

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- CED has this article

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