Video services

Love Letter

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin is expected to move ahead in his attempt to impose new regulations on the U.S. cable industry during Tuesday's big public meeting, but those plans continue to come under significant pressure and criticism from within his own agency and, more recently, from fellow Republicans.

Last week, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell openly criticized Martin's use of apparently questionable data that shows U.S. cable offers services in at least 70 percent of the country and at least 70 percent of those homes are cable TV subscribers. If that threshold is met, the FCC could use the so-called "70/70 rule" to seek new cable rules and regulations. (See More Martin Hits Coming? )

In a letter dated Monday (Nov. 26), four Republican Senators -- Jim DeMint (SC), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Gordon Smith (OR), and John Sununu (NH) -- fired off a letter to Martin dripping with concern about his reported plans to introduce "sweeping new regulations on the cable industry."

Citing an "unprecedented transformation" of the U.S. telecom and tech industries, they wrote: "We believe introducing new regulation into this environment, particularly on only one segment of a converging industry, could be disruptive."

They then go on to question Martin's authority on the matter.

"If there is to be a fundamental shift or adoption of new regulatory policies, it is up to Congress, not the Commission, to implement it," the Senators contend.

A full house is expected Tuesday, when the FCC moves through an agenda jammed with cable industry items, including details of the controversial video competition report, and possible modifications of cable's leased access and program carriage rules.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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