Apartment Rule Targeted


The National Cable & Telecommunications Association said it was planning to go to court if the Federal Communications Commission did not suspend by Dec. 21 its enforcement of a new rule that nullifies every exclusive service contract in the country between a cable operator and an apartment-building landlord.

“NCTA is not seeking a stay of the entire order, only the prohibition on enforcement of existing exclusive access agreements,” the trade group said in a statement on Dec. 11.

In effect, the NCTA would not try to overturn the rule insofar as it applies to future contracts.

Under FCC chairman Kevin Martin, the agency in October reversed its decision in 2003 not to interfere with exclusive contracts in the apartment-building market.

“As a result of the 2003 order, cable operators and building owners continued to enter into exclusive agreements, which often required cable operators to make substantial investments in new or upgraded facilities. Those investments would be jeopardized, causing irreparable harm, if a stay is not granted,” NCTA said.

The FCC’s rules regulate the conduct of cable operators. The rules, however, do not require landlords to allow a second video provider to enter a building.

It is highly unlikely the FCC will grant a stay, meaning the NCTA is just days or few weeks from seeking relief in federal appeals court. The NCTA said it will seek a court stay if the FCC did not suspend its rules for the duration of the trade group’s court appeal.