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NCTA Seeks Stay of FCC’s MDU Order

The cable industry continued to fight a Federal Communications Commission order that disallows exclusive contracts with the owners of apartments and condos.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association late Tuesday asked the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals to stay the portion of the order that invalidates existing exclusive contracts.

That followed the NCTA's Jan. 16 filing asking the court to review the order. But pending that review, the trade group wants the court to keep those existing contracts in place, pointing to the disruption that abrogating them causes, particularly if the court ultimately decides that they should not have been invalidated.

As it did in arguing against the FCC ruling, the NCTA pointed out that an earlier FCC decision not to regulate such contracts resulted in operators making "substantial investments that they will not be able to recoup if the exclusivity provisions of existing contracts are abrogated."

In addition, it said, “There are strong arguments that the FCC has no statutory authority to address this entire subject and that, in any event, it was arbitrary and capricious for the commission to grandfather existing contracts.” The trade group added that the stay was “essential.”

The NCTA in December asked the FCC to stay enforcement of the rules as they applied to existing contracts, but the commission has yet to act on that request, according to the association.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin argued that disallowing the exclusive deals would result in more choice and lower prices for consumers, which is one of his regulatory mantras. He also pitched it as a way to help minorities since a large number live in apartments and condos.