FCC chairman Kevin Martin appears to have it in for the cable industry. Despite (nervously) addressing the NCTA’s Cable Show in May to outline his rationale for supporting a la carte mandates, indecency-controlling measures, digital must-carry and other regulatory clampdowns on the cable industry.
The North Carolina-raised Republican is now girding for battle with cable’s so-called 800-pound gorilla, Comcast, which is roaring mad after the Martin-led FCC last night upheld the Media Bureau’s January denial of the cable operator’s request for a set-top integration ban waiver.
Comcast EVP David Cohen fired off a statement last night that the MSO will appeal the FCC decision in a federal court.
Martin and his fellow commissioners upheld the waiver denial, although commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps complained in a joint statement that other video providers received waivers for the same boxes the Media Bureau rejected at Comcast. Their analysis: the Bureau wrongly focused "on the operator who requested the waiver, rather than the box."
The FCC also is taking aim at the cable industry with its scheduled vote at its open commission meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 11) on its controversial triple-carriage must-carry proposal.
Forget dual must-carry — this would impose triple must-carry mandate on cable operators who haven’t yet migrated their systems to pricey all-digital networks.
Operators are (naturally) outraged and united against the agency’s proposed rules, released in May, that would force operators to transmit broadcasters’ local signals in high definition, standard definition and analog after the DTV deadline in Feb. 2009.
Comcast and the NCTA filed protests last week, while the American Cable Association similarly voiced its opposition in a meeting last week at the FCC.
The ACA, in follow-up comments to the agency, called the FCC’s proposed DTV order "both fiscally and technologically infeasible for all small cable operators."
The FCC also plans to vote Tuesday on measures concerning program access rules and extending its streamlined video franchise rules to cable.