WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has voided Hawaii’s ability to regulate basiccable rates.
After multiple filings by both the state and incumbent Time Warner Cable, the FCC declared that the MSO’s Oceanic Time Warner Cable system is subject to effective competition on the Big Island of Hawaii. TWC had petitioned for the filing based on the presence of satellite-TV competitors DirecTV and Dish Network.
The state opposed the petition. But after both sides stated their cases, the FCC concluded that TWC had met both parts of the effective competition test.
The first part is that there be at least two MVPDs providing similar services and that they are available to at least 50% of the market. Neither side disputed the first prong of that test, but the state would not stipulate that satellite TV was ubiquitous on the Big Island, as it is presumed to be in the continental United States, due to the low elevation angle of the satellites and the island and the “westward shadows of several volcanoes.”
The FCC’s Media Bureau called those claims generalities and not detailed, factual evidence rebutting the presumption that satellite-TV service has national reach.
The number of pay TV customers subscribing to providers other than TWC on the Big Island also exceeded the benchmark 15% of households, which is the second trigger for the effective competition finding.