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Sen. Thune: FCC Decision Squares With Congressional Intent

Two of three FCC Democrats dissented from the vote to presume cable operators are subject to video competition, but at least one of the legislators behind that bill disagrees.

While commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel said in their dissents that the FCC went farther than Congress intended in the STELAR satellite legislation that mandated it streamline the effective competition process for smaller operators, Sen John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, signaled he thought the FCC did get Congress' message right.

“A bipartisan majority at the FCC has recognized the competitive reality in today’s pay-TV market and appropriately adjusted the agency’s regulatory assumptions. In doing so, the commission responsibly acted within its authority and followed the direction it received from Congress in the STELAR Act to streamline its effective competition process," Thune said in a statement. "This action reduces inappropriate government price regulation that is bad for consumers and competition. FCC data shows that cable prices regulated by the government are actually higher than those regulated by market competition.”

Thune cited the most recent cable price report to point out that prices in noncompetitive communities averaged $23.01 for basic service, while in systems subject to effective competition, it was $22.51. "Because the effective competition order eases regulatory burdens on all cable providers," said Thune, "it appropriately achieves congressional intent."

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler made the same arguments about price and about achieving congressional intent in his statement on the order.  

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.