Comcast: FCC Should Ease Regulation


With the Federal Communications Commission nearing release of its annual pay-TV-competition report to Congress, Comcast Corp. is urging the agency to roll back rules that the MSO said are inconsistent with a competitive pay TV market.

Specifically, Comcast wants a rule that would totally deregulate all cable systems in a state where direct-broadcast satellite penetration exceeds 15%. Current rules require cable operators to prove that an individual franchise area has 15% penetration by pay TV rivals.

Comcast’s proposal would result in total cable deregulation in 41 states, according to data the National Cable & Telecommunications Association submitted to the FCC July 23.

“Congress has been clear: Competition trumps regulation. Regulation for the sake of helping competition to take root or to curtail the exercise of `market power’ is no longer needed or justified,” Comcast said in a Nov. 23 filing with the FCC.

Comcast -- the largest U.S. cable company, with about 21 million subscribers -- also urged the FCC to “initiate a review” of its program-access rules, which require Comcast to sell its satellite-delivered programming to EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc.

The FCC, Comcast said, should eliminate the rule prior to its October 2007 sunset, or at least allow the company to withhold programming from EchoStar and DirecTV, which are allowed to secure exclusive program rights with affiliated and unaffiliated programmers and not sell those services to cable operators.