N.J. Appeals FCC Decision on Cablevision Rates


New Jersey regulators are attempting to overturn a decision by the Federal Communications Commission’s Mass Media Bureau allowing Cablevision Systems Corp. to raise basic rates for more than 20% of its customers in the state, AP reported.

The Mass Media Bureau had determined that the MSO was operating in a competitive market, meaning that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities was forbidden from regulating rates for 200,000 customers in 49 towns, AP said.

The ruling meant that at least 15% of the households in those 49 towns subscribed to other video services, such as direct-broadcast satellite.

Cablevision has a total of 940,000 New Jersey customers in 184 towns.

The state Division of the Ratepayer Advocate joined the BPU in an appeal for the first time.

In the appeal, the BPU claimed that the FCC ruling was based on mismatched data and data that state regulators are not permitted to review. The Ratepayer Advocate added that Cablevision got its household figures from 2000 Census data, but the operator used 2002-03 data for satellite-television users, AP reported.

"The two- to three-year differential on the data significantly impacts the case because some of the communities are close to the 15% threshold," Ratepayer Advocate Seema M. Singh told AP. "If new household data were used, certain communities would fall below 15%, thereby preventing the deregulation of basic-service-tier rates."