Video services

NCTA to FCC: 'Hands Off!'

Is the cable industry too powerful or far-reaching? Of course not. Just ask its top pressure group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) .

NCTA President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) telling the Commission to keep its filthy mitts off his industry, in light of a report suggesting that the FCC is looking to regulate the cable business more aggressively.

In a letter with today's date, McSlarrow notes that the so-called "70-70" test hasn't been met. That 70-70 requirement refers to a situation where the FCC could more tightly regulate cable if at least 70 percent of U.S. homes are passed by MSOs, with at least 70 percent of those homes actually subscribing to a cable service.

McSlarrow's chief complaint is that he feels the FCC is mistaken about the actual service penetration of the cable industry. As such, he wonders why "there is the relentless drive for more regulation and more government micromanagement" in the video business, when the market "is more competitive than ever."

While seven of the top 10 U.S. cable MSOs had lost nearly 200,000 subscribers through September 30 of this year, satellite video service providers added about 1.8 million customers during that period, McSlarrow adds.

The FCC hasn't issued a comment on McSlarrow's letter, but that's not surprising given that he's writing to protest against reported conclusions the Commissioners have allegedly drawn from data that hasn't even been made public yet.

On Tuesday, however, FCC chairman Kevin Martin told reporters in Washington DC that the FCC's new figures originate from the findings of a yet-unnamed "outside independent firm," but confirmed that the study found cable's penetration rate to be "just over 70."

The details of that report notwithstanding, McSlarrow argues in his missive to the FCC that the agency itself previously has found cable's penetration rate to come in well under the 70 percent ceiling.

Last year's report, based on FCC cable price survey data, found the cable industry to have only a 56 percent market penetration. He also cited independent studies, including one from SNL Kagan, that forecasts U.S. cable systems -- including those owned by telcos -- will pass about 113.6 million "occupied" homes by the end of 2007, with cable services purchased by only 66 million, or 58.1 percent, of that total.

Not that the cable business is paranoid or anything.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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COMMENTS Add Comment
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 2:58:51 PM
re: NCTA to FCC: 'Hands Off!' The cable cos should bulk up on their RNC dues. It sounds like the FCC will stop at nothing to hamstring cable in favor of their paid up telco friends.
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 2:58:49 PM
re: NCTA to FCC: 'Hands Off!' This was why the NCTA hired Republican insider McSlarrow as its head honcho. Doesn't seem to have played out as hoped.
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