Orgs urging FCC to call TCI and TW ‘mom and pop’

Two cable industry groups Wednesday urged the FCC to exempt all small cable systems with fewer than 1,000 subscribers from new rate regulation rules, and not just independently owned “mom and pop” systems.

The Federal Communications Commission is contemplating whether it has the authority to exempt not just independently owned cable systems from rate regulation rules, but also systems of fewer than 1,000 subscribers owned by cable company behemoths such as Time Warner and Tele-Communications Inc.

Both the National Cable Television Assn. and the Community Antenna Television Assn. argued in legal pleadings Wednesday that a blanket exemption should be the route taken.

“Making a largely artificial distinction between affiliated and unaffiliated systems creates an unnecessary complicated system of regulation,” said CATA. “The (FCC) must resist such an excursion into regulatory overkill.”

NCTA said that “although some small systems may have the benefit of certain economies of scale by virtue of their affiliation with a multisystem operator, this does not alleviate the higher built-in costs faced by all operators serving a small subscriber base.”

Despite the arguments of NCTA and CATA, it seems doubtful the FCC will grant an exemption for large MSOs that own small systems. The reason: Such a decision would infuriate key lawmakers in Congress who have turned the cable industry into a favored whipping boy.

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