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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 15, 2011

Communications Providers Scrutinize FCC Ruling on Cable TV

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Industry observer Mark Long reports that the Federal Communications Commission “has introduced a new rule to prevent cable-TV providers from suddenly removing video content produced by independent program vendors as a way to gain use in contract disputes.”

Long notes that the FCC (News - Alert) pitches their ruling as benefiting consumers by promoting competition and diversity in the video-programming and video-distribution market, adding that “the FCC's order establishes the specific requirements and procedures under which the commission will consider requests for a temporary freeze of the price, terms and other conditions of an existing contract submitted by vendors seeking renewal.”

TMCnet recently reported that since some communications providers offer extensions on a month-to-month basis after their carriage contracts have ended, “the challenge is that there is still an ongoing uncertainty that has had negative consequences for vendors. And, as communications providers on the cable side are more likely to be content producers themselves, there is always more incentive to favor their own content over that of an independent producer.”

As Long says, cable providers are now more likely to be content producers themselves, “there is more incentive for them to favor their own content over that of independent producers, noted Commissioner Michael Copps (News - Alert).”

Understandably, the industry itself is not in favor of the ruling. "We are profoundly disappointed not only in what the FCC did but how they did it," said National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell. "Regrettably, we must now explore other avenues for redress."

Want to learn more about how federal regulations are shaping and re-defining communications and information technology? Then be sure to attend the Regulatory 2.0 Workshop, collocated with TMC’s (News - Alert) ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) has pursued the singular goal of ubiquitous broadband access to an open Internet. While some progress has been made, the most difficult decisions are ahead. What's the Commission to do? This program will examine the important issues facing the FCC including net neutrality, inter-carrier compensation and universal service reform, new CALEA legislation, next generation 911, additional spectrum for wireless broadband and the evolving role of state regulation. To register, click here.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein