FCC's MDU Rule Lives On
In a 2-to-1 vote on March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the NCTA's request for a stay. The rule went into effect that day.
The NCTA had no comment about the court's refusal to grant the stay, but spokesman Brian Dietz noted that the court has yet to make its final decision on whether to overturn the rule that bans exclusivity on existing service contracts.
At issue is a 2003 decision that had the FCC unanimously approving the idea of exclusive contracts between cable operators and MDUs' owners. Without a stay, any exclusive provisions in those contracts are now void.
The FCC adopted its new set of MDU rules last fall, hoping to open up competition with telcos and other service providers trying to crack the market. (See FCC Bans Cable MDU Lockups.)
U.S. cable's top pressure group originally filed its request for a stay with the FCC in December, threatening to take the matter to appeals court, which it did in late January. (See NCTA Asks for MDU Stay and NCTA Takes MDU Row to Court .)
Although the court could still overturn the exclusivity ban on contracts signed under the old rules, operators are believed to be negotiating with apartment owners as if no changes are forthcoming.
"All of the [cable] companies have been acting as if the rules have been in place," says Jim Honiotes, principal for Lynch Cable Resources Inc. , a Denver-based firm that specializes in cable MDU sales and contract work.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News