Skip to main content

Small Cable Ops Keep Up Leased-Access Fight

A federal court stayed the Federal Communications Commission's leased-access-rule changes until it can hear a cable-industry challenge, but that hasn't stopped small cable operators from continuing to hammer away at them at the commission.

In a filing with the FCC, the American Cable Association said the changes, which include additional reporting requirements, violate the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act.

The FCC’s Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing the rules to make sure they don't violate that act.

The ACA, which represents smaller cable operators, said the FCC “grossly underestimated” the amount of time and resources required to comply with the new reporting requirements and pointed out that its operators, more than one-half of which have fewer that 1,000 subscribers, had the same reporting requirements as the top cable operators -- Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which have millions of subscribers.

Even if the FCC was right that it would take only 27 hours per year, per system, that was still too much for some smaller "mom-and-pop" operations, the trade group added. And that figure is not accurate, it argued.

Rather than a mere 54 hours per year, the ACA said, for its Buckeye CableSystem (just under 500 employees, 149,000 subscribers) to handle its two systems, it will have to hire an $80,000-per-year, full-time employee to deal with what it said will be a flood of leased-access requests that will result from another of the FCC's leased-access changes -- a price cut that will reduce the price of the leased channels effectively to zero.

John Eggerton
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.