The American Cable Association and National Cable & Telecommunications Association are asking the court to allow them to intervene in support of the FCC in the National Association of Broadcasters and local franchising authorities (LFA) legal challenge to the commission's effective competition decision.
"With the consent of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, ACA and NCTA intend to support the FCC's presumption that all cable systems face 'effective competition' in their local markets," ACA President Matt Polka and NCTA President Michael Powell said in a joint statement. "ACA and NCTA believe the FCC acted correctly in response to dramatic changes in the pay-TV market that persist to this day and in response to mandates in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) that Congress passed less than a year ago.
"The FCC's decision to reverse the 22-year-old presumption that cable operators do not face 'effective competition' was based on compelling evidence that Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers DirecTV and Dish Network have created nationwide competition in the marketplace for multichannel video programming distribution -- a fact that has been borne out by the FCC finding that effective competition exists in the 'vast majority' of franchise areas it has reviewed since 2013.
The FCC earlier this year voted unanimously to reverse the presumption that cable operators are not subject to local market competition.
Cable operators have been subject to basic rate regulation unless they affirmativly ask the FCC for an effective competition ruling.
Given the reach of satellite TV, the FCC has granted virtually all of those requests in the past couple of years, the FCC decided to start assuming local market competition unless LFA's or others can prove otherwise, prompted by a congressional mandate to make the process easier for smaller operators.
Broadcasters challenged that decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, saying tht Congress never meant the FCC to eliminate that presumption for everyone when it asked for streamlined process. They said the change will lead to higher prices and cable operators pulling local TV station signals off the basic tier.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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