FCC Tweaks Inside-Wiring Rules

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Cable operators may sign exclusive video-programming-service contracts with
apartment-building owners, the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday
in a ruling that largely affirmed cable inside-wiring rules adopted in 1997.

The FCC also said it would not bar cable operators from signing perpetual
contracts with building owners.

"The record does not demonstrate that banning these contracts would
significantly improve the competitive situation for multichannel-video
services," the agency said.

The ruling was unanimous, although Republican member Kevin Martin dissented
in part regarding the FCC's authority to regulate the commercial transfer of
cable home-run wiring, which is the wiring running down hallways, often behind
sheet rock and molding.

The commission modified two rules, one of which could result in giving
apartment dwellers who subscribe to cable greater control over home-run wiring
at certain times.

Dan Brenner, senior vice president of law and regulatory policy at the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said although he would
continue to review the 59-page order, it appeared that the FCC made "no major
changes to the existing rules, which have facilitated competition in the
marketplace."

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