Broadcasters suggest ITV regulation

In a somewhat veiled swipe at the new FCC chairman, leaders of the broadcast industry said it's not too early for regulators to limit cable companies' control over interactive TV.

"It is not premature for the commission to make the fundamental public policy choice between open and closed architecture in enhanced/interactive television," the broadcasters said in a letter to the FCC.

Although the FCC is conducting an inquiry in the need for ITV rules, FCC Chairman Michael Powell has said repeatedly that the nascent business is too unformed and unpredictable to regulate now. The broadcasters say the critical issue is whether cable companies will be allowed to strip the two-way "triggers" of unaffiliated programmers, thus rendering independent ITV services inoperable.

"The question that must be answered is whether consumers who have paid for the use of both the broadband modem and the TV tuner will enjoy the same freedom of navigation that is characterized by the openness of today's . . . narrowband Internet access," the groups said. Signing the letter were officials from the Association of Local Television Stations, the Association for Maximum Service Television, the National Association of Broadcasters, USA Networks, Univision and Walt Disney/ABC.
- Bill McConnell