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FCC Launches Leased Access Revamp

The FCC has voted unanimously to "modernize" its leased access rules.

Those are the requirements that cable operators to set aside some channel capacity for unaffiliated programmers.

Related: Pai Signals Leased-Access Do-Over

The further notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) tentatively concludes that the commission should vacate its 2008 leased access order, which never actually went into effect.

Cable operators had challenged that 2008 update in court given that it had slashed rates by 75% (cable ops viewed Martin as having a "vendetta" against the industry). NCTA-The Internet & Television Association argued at the time that the result would be shoddy programming that viewers would not want to watch and that, under the new rate, cable ops might not be compensated at all.

It also seeks comment on the current leased access marketplace generally, proposes to have cable ops respond only to bona fide requests from prospective programmers, seeks comment on extending the time frame or cable ops to respond to requests and allowing cable ops to charge a nominal application fee or at least a deposit, and proposes modifications to dispute resolution procedures.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the vote vacates a troubled order and wipes the slate clean for what he hopes will be a rule revamp that takes into account the current marketplace, not the one in place when the rules were adopted, including the new means of distribution that did not exist then.