FCC to re-examine cable ownership rules

May 22, 2005

The FCC announced last week that it will begin a new round of comments on proceedings to determine ownership rules for cable television systems.

The new proceeding stems from a 2001 ruling by the District of Columbia Circuit Court in Time Warner Entertainment v. FCC, a case that reversed and remanded the FCC’s cable horizontal and vertical ownership limits.

Those original ownership rules were mandated in the 1992 Cable Act, which directed the FCC to establish limits on the number of subscribers a cable operator may serve and on the number of channels a cable operator may devote to affiliated programming.

Previous FCC regulations barred cable operators from owning systems serving more than 30 percent of the nation’s subscribers. The regulations also prohibited operators from having interests in more than 40 percent of the programming featured on their systems. The court threw out those rules. The FCC then sought comments on new regulations following the ruling, but never adopted the rules.

The FCC initiative, called the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, is available at www.fcc.gov.

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