As expected, the FCC’s slated to vote next Tues on a video competition report that presumably still concludes that cable has surpassed 70% penetration of homes passed by cable. The possible triggering of the 23-year-old 70/70 rule continued to generate buzz Tues, with the heads of Disney, Viacom, NBCU and News Corp writing a joint letter to FCC chmn Kevin Martin dissing such a move. "The reality is that consumers today enjoy a wider range of media choices than at any time in history," the 4 men wrote. "Ill-considered and unjustified govt interventions cannot be permitted to undermine this vibrant American industry." Even Martin’s fellow Republicans are against him, with 23 Republicans on the House Commerce Committee, including Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX), asking the FCC to detail the data it’s using to argue for new mandates to the cable industry. "Such actions are unsupported by the record of significant competition in the video programming marketplace, and would be harmful to innovation and consumers," the Republicans wrote. Republican commish Robert McDowell has indicated he wouldn’t vote for a report that concludes the 70/70 test has been met, and Deborah Taylor Tate appears to have concerns about it as well. Joining NCTA in arguing that the 70/70 test neither has been met nor allows for broad regulation of cable is the US Chamber of Commerce. Also on Tues’ jam-packed FCC agenda is an order to slash the lease accessed rate and look at program service rules (this is likely where the arbitration proposal supported by NFL Net and Hallmark Channel would come into play). Other items of interest include a media ownership item aimed at increasing participation of minorities and women in broadcast. Presumably, this is Martin’s plan for allowing independents to lease digital spectrum from broadcast stations. Cable’s key problem with this is that Martin wants to extend must-carry rights to the new, leased stations.

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