FCC to proceed with "effective competition" review [telecom]

By Brian Santo, CEDmagazine, 04/07/2015

The FCC has denied a petition from the NAB and Public Knowledge to not consider what constitutes "effective competition" in the MVPD market.

Current law presumes that cable operators do not face effective competition, making them subject to rate regulation; the burden of proof is on cable operators to demonstrate that they do have competition. This can be a significant burden for smaller cable companies.

The FCC was given the opportunity to visit the issue with recent passage of the STELAR Act. The FCC is proposing that the presumption should be that operators do face effective competition, and the burden of proof that they don't would fall on others. The change is justified, the FCC said, because when the question comes up, it almost always rules in favor of the cable operator because of the near-omnipresence of Dish and DirecTV...

The NAB and Public Knowledge claimed that STELAR gave the FCC no such authority, and even if it did, the FCC's schedule for the rule-making process is too short. As might be expected, the American Cable Association (ACA), which represents small and mid-sized cable operators, advised the FCC to reject the petition.

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Neal McLain

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