FCC’s Pai Outlines October Meeting Items

WASHINGTON—FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has laid out the plan for the commission’s open meeting set to take place on Oct. 23 in D.C. Two of the main issues set for discussion related to the television industry revolve around cable competition and antenna site regulation.

The first issue deals with the Cable Act and the regulation of basic cable rates. Chairman Pai says under the current law, cable regulation is only permitted in areas where there isn’t effective competition in the video marketplace, which as of today only applies to certain parts of Hawaii and Massachusetts. Charter has recently requested that the FCC find it is subject to effective competition in the Hawaii and Massachusetts markets it serves, primarily because of the presence of AT&T’s OTT service that Charter says is comparable to programming from cable operators.

“Just as the commission’s rules should reflect how IP-based services have changed the marketplace for voice services, they should also acknowledge the ways they are revolutionizing the video marketplace,” Pai said. As a result, the FCC will vote on a new order that would acknowledge Charter now has effective competition via AT&T’s streaming service. “Adopting this order would be a major step toward the commission recognizing the realities of the modern video marketplace, and the increasingly important role that streaming services are playing in it,” Pai added.

In addition, Pai says that the meeting plans to address regulations related to the use of common antenna sites that date back to World War II. Saying that these regulations originated in a time that there were shortages of equipment and materials, which is not the case anymore, and that there are substantially more radio and TV stations and broadcast antenna locations, Pai argues that “there is now a serious question as to whether the commission’s common antenna site regulations remain necessary.” To address this, a vote on a proposal to seek comment on whether these rules should be revised or eliminated will be held.

More of what will be on tap at the October open meeting is available here.