N.J. Wants Tighter FCC Cable Regulations


New Jersey regulators are asking for tighter federal rules used to determine whether cable operators are legally subject to effective competition and no longer rate-regulated.

The New Jersey Division of the Rate Payer Advocate complained to the Federal Communications Commission in an Oct. 23 letter that cable operators may have been deregulated prematurely. New Jersey asked the FCC to launch a rulemaking that would apply tighter standards relying on "contemporaneous data."

Generally, a cable operator is deregulated if it can demonstrate that EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network and DirecTV Inc. have more than 15% household penetration in a franchise area. Other pay TV subscriber totals are also factored in.

New Jersey regulators are upset because they claimed that cable operators with effective-competition petitions before the FCC have presented outdated household census data that may not be consistent with a finding of 15% penetration.