NCTA Asks FCC To Stay Leased Access Changes

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has asked the FCC to stay enforcement of its changes to the cable leased access rules while pending the outcome of NCTA's court challenge of the rules.

Cable operators are required by law to set aside channels for lease by outside programmers.

NCTA says the changes, which among other things cuts the rate cable operators can charge for leased access, are an unreasonable departure from precedent, will "irreparably harm" cable operators and programmers by "purposely encouraging a flood of new commercial leased access users," which will force operators to "rearrange and remove existing programming."

The Leased Access Programmers Association (LAPA) is asking the FCC to reject the petition.

"I hope FCC will ignore NCTA's request," said Charlie Stogner, president of LAPA, "and that the new rules and rates will go into effect as planned and "the courts will, as in the past, decree the FCC is within its power to do this."

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

NCTA filed suit against the new rules March 13, calling the decision arbitrary and capricious and a violation of procedure, but also threw in “unlawful burden on speech" (First Amendment) and an unconstitutional "uncompensated taking of private property" (Fifth Amendment).

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.