The Federal Communications Commission reversed course Friday and decided to allow cable systems affiliated with a program supplier to pass through program costs to consumers at fair market value.

That was one of the few bits of good news for cablers in a FCC 90-page order.

The FCC originally ruled that program costs of vertically integrated cable companies (such as TCI and Time Warner) could be raised only at the rate of inflation. However, the new regs allow “recovery for programming cost increases that occur generally in the marketplace,” the FCC said.

The FCC affirmed its original decision to set rates for regulated tiers of cable service at levels similar to the price charged in areas where a cabler faces competition fromanother cable provider or a “wireless” cable operation.

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