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Hope Springs Anew For Leased-Access Advocate

Leased-access programmer Charlie Stogner hopes the new regime at the Federal Communications Commission will finally yield a ruling on whether cable operators must provide leased-access programmers the same ability to deliver programming via the Internet to the cable headend, and on the same terms, as non-leased programmers.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps has asked the bureaus to start moving on some non-controversial decisions, seeking to clear up what he calls a "backlog of routine items from stakeholders seeking clarification or a license or some other non-hot button request." Copps replaced Kevin Martin, a Republican who stepped down as new President Barack Obama came in.

Stogner, who heads the Leased Access Programmers Association, says he is pleased with Copps's new pledge of openness and his effort to try to get rid of the backlog.

Stogner's been pushing the FCC for more than a year to release a decision on his petition, which was filed back in March of last year.

Stogner says he is paying $100 a month in eight different places while other non-leased programmers, HBO for example, not only get free satellite reception but operators put up the dish and all the equipment.

"It has to do with whether or not leased access users are permitted to avail ourselves of the latest technology," Stogner said.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps's office had not returned a call on whether the leased-access petition was one of the items that could be on the fast, or at least faster, track.

Generally, the FCC is concentrating on the DTV transition in the near term, but Copps said that would not prevent it from moving on some other, noncontroversial, items.