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Whack! Book Slams On Leased-Access Fight

That “Whacking” Sound The FCC made a couple of weeks ago was the sound of it closing the book on a leased-access fight that fizzled out years ago, involving a complaint from a defunct group and pushback by another, familiar organization now doing business under another name.

The Federal Communications Commission has officially terminated a proceeding that dated back a decade, from when the Media Access Project (which no longer exists), on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC), asked the agency to revise its rate formula and to overrule the Office of Management and Budget, which would not approve new information collection requirements for changes to the leased-access rules.

The OMB said the burden was too great on cable operators and thus violated the Paperwork Reduction Act. The MAP challenge had been opposed by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which is now NCTA–The Internet & Television Association.

MAP’s request was still on the books, even though it had dropped its main legal challenge long ago.

“We had been in court over leased access, but MAP dropped that appeal in 2012,” said Andrew Schwartzman, formerly head of MAP. “Related to that, there was a hassle over OMB’s Paperwork Reduction Act response to which MAP had filed an objection. The objection was sitting out there, even though MAP wasn’t pursing the main case. Staff just wanted to make sure it was officially terminated.”

Media Bureau chief Michelle Carey said: “Due to the passage of time, UCC has agreed to withdraw its request. Therefore, we are dismissing the request without prejudice.”