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Cable escapes Hill's eye

Climbing cable rates will get scant attention during the current session of
Congress because Capitol Hill will be preoccupied with debate over the Federal
Communications Commission's new broadcast-ownership rules, aides to key
lawmakers said Monday.

"We've got enough on our plate," Kevin Kayes said during a panel discussion
at the National Show in Chicago.

Kayes is a telecommunications aide to Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), the Commerce
Committee's ranking Democrat.

Aside from rising rates, the cable industry stands in lawmakers' good graces
because it has aggressively moved into new businesses such as broadband delivery
and telephony following the deregulatory Telecommunications Act of 1996 while
many others have dragged their feet moving beyond their traditional service
areas, Kayes said.

"Cable is well under the radar screen," he added. "It's one industry that did
what it was expected to do in the 1996 Act."

Cable rates, if they get serious attention at all, won't get close scrutiny
until the next Congress, other aides on the panel agreed.

The increasing cost of cable has prompted Senate Commerce Committee chairman John
McCain (R-Ariz.) and others to periodically complain about the cost.