12.08.2008 09:22 AM
Cable operators ask appeals court to eliminate FCC cap

Cable operators have asked a federal appeals court to reverse an FCC decision that reimposes a 30 percent national cap on the percentage of subscribers operators may reach.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Time Warner Cable and several state cable associations and cable operators filed a legal brief supporting Comcast’s March 12 challenge to the FCC decision.

In 2001, the same appeals court overturned the cap, finding that the FCC was wrong to conclude that two companies would automatically conspire to deny access to programming. Last fall, the FCC voted to restore the 30 percent national cap.

At the time, Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who voted against the measure, argued the cap was unnecessary and unjustified and predicted the court would throw it out again.

Comcast, the largest cable operator, has 27 percent of national subscribers. It and the others argue that a 30 percent cap hinders the cable companies’ ability to grow, to reach a larger audience and to raise capital — all critical to remaining competitive in the marketplace.

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