ACA Backs Broad Revamp of Rate Deregulation

Says That Squares With New Competitive Realities
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The American Cable Association told the FCC Friday that it is happy to have larger operators included in the FCC's effort to streamline the effective competition process and reverse the presumption that cable systems don't have competition unless proved otherwise--for purposes of deregulation basic cable rates.

The version of satellite license reauthorization legislation (STELAR) that passed last fall included a mandate that the FCC look at making that process easier. The FCC, given that it has granted virtually all cable requests to deregulate basic rates of late given, principally, the presence of MVPDs Dish and DirecTV, has proposed presuming cable operators are competitive and putting the onus on opponents of that deregulation to prove they are not.

Critics of the FCC proposal say the Congress was trying to help smaller operators, like ACA members, and did not mean for the FCC to reverse the presumption, and certainly not for all operators.

ACA says the more the merrier. "[ACA] agrees that applying this revised rebuttable presumption across-the-board rather than limiting it to small cable operators represents an appropriate exercise of the Commission’s broad authority to update its rules to reflect the reality of the current highly competitive video marketplace," it said in comments on the FCC proposal.

Broadcasters oppose streamlining the rate dereg process as they continue to hammer on cable operators over pricing as part of a broader effort to fight cable-backed changes to retransmission consent.

ACA also says the FCC should add local exchange carrier video competition to Dish and DirecTV as constituting de facto effective competition.