McSlarrow Defends Private Cable Networks


Washington -- In comments partly aimed at TV stations looking for a free ride on cable systems, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow said Wednesday that cable’s inability to control access to its facilities directly impacts investment and limits consumer choice.

“Every time someone thinks they can just take a slice of bandwidth here, or a slice there — whether it’s dual carriage or multicasting or something else — you reduce the incentives to invest, you pick winners and losers for carriage on a pipe that does not have unlimited bandwidth, and you reduce the real freedom of the consumer,” McSlarrow said in a speech to the Media Institute, an industry-funded First Amendment organization.

As Congress prepares to write a new telecommunications law, McSlarrow urged Congress to keep in mind that the law passed in 1996 unleashed $100 billion in cable investment because cable companies faced a hospitable regulatory environment in which to offer high-speed Internet access, digital video service, and digital phone services.

“None of this would have happened without establishing a framework that respected the private nature of our networks and provided the incentives to invest,” he said.

Regarding rules for providers of Internet-protocol video, McSlarrow said the cable industry is “willing to compete on whatever level playing field is set by Congress.”