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Clinton, Martin A Ticket On MDUs

Washington – Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), considered the person to beat for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination, is backing Republican Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin’s effort to ban exclusive contracts between cable operators and apartment building owners.

The New York Senator, who went public with her support in an Oct. 24 letter to the FCC’s two Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, said opening up the apartment building market was especially critical in the Empire State, where more than 50% of the population lives in apartment buildings or multiple dwelling units (MDUs.). New York has about 20 million residents.

“Like everyone else in the Information Age, they need access to affordable broadband in order to prosper and should be given the opportunity to choose which service is best for them,” Clinton said in her short but substantive letter.

Martin is hoping the FCC will adopt the ban now favored by Clinton at its Oct. 31 public meeting at FCC headquarters in Washington D.C.

Clinton also took a stand on whether the FCC’s ban should apply to existing contracts. She told the two FCC Democrats that the ban should apply both “retrospectively and prospectively.” The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Comcast have both told the FCC that the agency lacks authority to void existing contracts.

Clinton’s letter was a political victory for Verizon Communications, which has been lobbying Martin for new MDU rules. In fact, a public relations firm working for Verizon circulated Clinton's letter to reporters via email. Verizon is headquartered in New York.

The tone of Clinton's letter was formal as it addressed the two Democrats by title and name instead of using "Dear Mike and Jon." The lack of chumminess was also evident in how Clinton signed the letter -- not with Hillary but with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton's support for Martin and Verizon was a setback for cable, especially cable industry Democrats who have given generously to underwrite the election hopes of Bill and Hillary Clinton since 1992.