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FCC Tweaks Wiring Rules

Cable operators may sign exclusive video programming service contracts with apartment building owners, the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday.

In a ruling that largely affirmed cable inside-wiring rules adopted in 1997, the FCC also said it would not bar cable operators from signing perpetual contracts with building owners.

"The record does not demonstrate that banning these contracts would significantly improve the competitive situation for multichannel video services," the regulator said.

The ruling was unanimous, although Republican commissioner Kevin Martin offered a partial dissent with respect to the FCC's authority to regulate the commercial transfer of cable home-run wiring, or the wiring that runs down hallways, often behind Sheetrock and molding.

The FCC modified two rules, one of which could give apartment dwellers who subscribe to cable greater control over home-run wiring at certain times.

National Cable & Tele-communications Association senior vice president of law and regulatory policy Daniel Brenner said he would continue to review the 59-page order, but it appeared that the FCC made "no major changes to the existing rules, which have facilitated competition in the marketplace."