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FCC Adopts New Access Rules

Washington -- Under pressure from Ameritech New Media, the
Federal Communications Commission on Friday adopted new enforcement tools in deciding
program access disputes.

The FCC said it would award damages in cases where program
access defendants "knew or should have known" that its conduct violated program
access rules. The FCC rejected imposing punitive damages.

The FCC also rejected creating an automatic discovery right
that would have opened MSO programming contracts to examination by complainants. The FCC
said defendants that rely on one document or more to defend themselves must attach the
materials to their reply.

The FCC said it declined to adopt rules to govern cases
where satellite-delivered programming had been migrated to terrestrial distribution and
would not be covered by program access rules.

"There's no evidence in the record to suggest
that more government is needed," said Decker Anstrom, president of the National Cable
Television Association. "Indeed, the record is clear that cable's competitors
already have access to virtually all of the most popular cable programming services."