Cable Sues to Restore Exclusive MDU Deals

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association thinks the FCC went too far with its Oct. 31, 2007 order that not only banned apartment managers and others from striking exclusive deals with multichannel video providers, but also struck down such contracts already in place.

This week, NCTA followed through with its promise to challenge that part of the FCC order in court, filing a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., asking for a judicial stay of the FCC order while the court considers the issue.

The FCC order was printed in the Federal Register Jan. 7 and takes effect March 7, according to the NCTA petition. The groups asked the FCC for a stay of the order, pending court review, back on Dec. 11.

“Cable operators have made substantial investments that they will not be able to recoup if exclusivity provisions of existing contracts are abrogated,” NCTA said.

The trade group said the FCC has no statutory authority over the contracts, and that its refusal to grandfather existing contracts was arbitrary and capricious. “A stay is essential,” said NCTA.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has highlighted the prohibition and abrogation of exclusive deals in apartment building and other multiple dwelling units (MDU) as one way the commission has created more competition for viewers in the multichannel marketplace.

The NCTA is joined in the petition by the National Multi-Housing Council and others.