Leased Access: How Much?

The head of the Leased Access Programmers Association, Charlie Stogner, has been trying to find out how much he should be paying to lease space from cable operators, so far to no avail, he said.

The Federal Communications Commission earlier this year voted to lower the rate cable operators can charge, arguing that it would spur competition and diversity in multichannel-video programming. The rules were set to kick in May 28, but the Office of Management and Budget reviews drafts of many new regulations -- including the leased-access order -- per the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act to make sure they don't unnecessarily lead to more paperwork.

The Bush administration has been trying to better enforce the 90-day limit on that OMB review, so Stogner wants to find out when the draft was submitted so he can try to figure out when cable operators will be required to quote him a new rate.

"The delays in new rules, especially the rates, becoming effective are really hurting those of us that struggle to have cable cooperate," he said in an e-mail to FCC deputy general counsel Joseph Palmore.

Cable operators and networks have sought to block implementation of the new leased-access rule changes, both at the FCC and in court, but so far the rules are still scheduled to kick in whenever the OMB OKs them and they are published in the Federal Register.

The FCC released the new rule changes in February, having voted in November to lower the rates cable operators charge and speed up the complaint process. The commission’s majority argued that the change would lead to greater program diversity.

An FCC spokesman said that the FCC submitted the rules April 28, which means OMB has until the end of June to reply, a timetable an angry Stogner called unacceptable given that the FCC adopted the rules in late 2007.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.