Cable: Video Access Would Bump Nets

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Washington -- Internet Ventures Inc.'s petition for
the Federal Communications Commission to place Internet streaming video under the
leased-access rules would bump existing cable channels off systems, the cable industry
contended in comments filed recently.

The National Cable Television Association held that such a
result would run counter to the intent of the leased-access rules: to create more access
for programmers.

"Plain and simple, IVI does not provide video
programming," the NCTA argued. "Try as it might to masquerade its service as a
television-broadcast station, all IVI provides is access to the Internet."

In early June, Internet-service provider IVI asked the FCC
to issue a declaratory ruling stating that it is eligible for carriage on cable systems
under the leased-access provisions of the 1984 Cable Act.

Those provisions narrowed the class of leased-access users
to those providing "video programming," which the rules defined as
"programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided
by, a television-broadcast station."

In its petition, IVI argued that Internet video streaming
fits that definition, so it should be able to lease cable capacity. Cable operators in
several cities have refused to carry IVI under that model.

"The fact that some video content may be available on
the Internet does not render an ISP a 'video programmer' on the Internet,"
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services said in its comments.

AT&T Broadband contended that IVI's approach would
be "a highly inefficient use of channel capacity," because it would
"duplicate" Internet access already available over the same cable system.

MediaOne Group Inc. argued that IVI's petition is
"long on hyperbole and short on substance," adding that it was "nothing
more than a brazen attempt to use the regulatory process to salvage a business model that
apparently is not viable in the open market."

Comcast Corp. called the petition "a solution in
search of a problem," arguing that IVI has "abundant alternatives to reach the
public" anyway.

And Time Warner Cable accused IVI of presenting "a
misleading portrayal of its service," adding that cable operators would face numerous
technical issues trying to accommodate ISPs under leased access.

Michael Grebb is a senior editor at Cablevision
magazine.

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