NCTA Fights L.A. Program-Access Bid

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Federal law blocks Los Angeles and other cities from passing laws that invade
cable's right to sign exclusive programming contracts, the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association said Tuesday.

Los Angeles, evidently spurred on by Verizon Communications, is weighing a
law that would bar cable companies from signing any exclusive programming deals,
but the NCTA said such a local law would conflict with federal law and be
pre-empted.

In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, the NCTA's top lawyer, Daniel
Brenner, said Congress did not assign local governments any role in regulating
carriage terms between cable operators and programmers.

"Congress expressly prohibited local governments from regulating in this
area," Brenner said.

Federal program-access laws -- which the Federal Communications Commission
extended last year for an additional five years -- generally bar cable
exclusivity with a satellite-delivered network that is at least 5 percent owned
by any cable operator. Brenner's letter was the NCTA's response to a Los Angeles
legal opinion that the city could lawfully create an exclusivity prohibition on
all cable-programming contracts.

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