FCC Studying New Rate Regulation Model


Washington -- In a concession to cable industry lobbying, federal regulators are studying whether new rules are needed for determining when a cable operator
is totally deregulated.

For more than a year, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
has been telling the Federal Communications Commission that its rules regarding
when a cable operator is subject to 'effective competition' were outdated and
needed to be changed.

In its proposal, the FCC suggested that perhaps the legal burden should be
shifted from the cable operator to state and local governments, especially in
areas where DBS penetration is quite high.

So instead of the cable operator proving effective competition, states and
local government would have to prove the absence of effective competition.

'The growth and development in DBS services has suggested to some that the
effective competition determination process should be expedited, for example, by
altering the burden of proof in areas of high DBS penetration so that
community-by-community decision might now always be needed,' the FCC said.

The satellite industry serves 18.9 million subscribers, about 20 percent of
the country's pay-TV market, according to the Satellite Broadcasting and
Communications Association.