Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
By Lydia Beyoud
March 31 — Cable groups are opposing a motion from broadcasters and Public Knowledge asking the FCC to either narrow the scope of its proposed rules on a rebuttable presumption that sufficient competition exists in the cable marketplace, or else to extend the comment deadlines for the NPRM, according to two March 31 filings.
The Federal Communications Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (MB Docket No. 15-53) March 16 on reversing its regulatory status quo by adopting a rebuttable presumption that competition exists in the cable marketplace, thereby requiring a state or local franchising authority to show that competition doesn't exist in order to regulate basic cable rates
The proposed rule is part of the FCC's effort to implement Section 111 of the STELA Reauthorization (STELAR) Act of 2014, which directs the agency to streamline the effective competition petition process for small cable operators. In its last reauthorization of the nation's satellite TV laws, Congress required the FCC to implement Section 111 rules by June 2.
In separate FCC filings, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the American Cable Association, asked the FCC to stick with its timeline of an April 9 comment deadline and April 20 reply comment deadline.
The National Association of Broadcasters and Public Knowledge March 26 requested the FCC to either narrow the scope of its NPRM or push the deadlines to May 11 and May 26, respectively.
In its filing, ACA said it supports NCTA's position that both NAB and PK failed to demonstrate that there is good cause for the relief they requested, and that therefore the FCC should deny their motion and continue with the proceeding.
“Such an extension would, of course, make it impossible as a practical matter for the Commission to meet the statutory deadline for implementing Section 111,” NCTA said in its own filing.
In their joint March 26 filing, NAB and PK said the FCC had gone well beyond Congress's “narrow, specific directive” that the FCC establish a streamlined process for filing of an effective competition petition for small cable operators.
Congress's directive was “ limited, procedural in nature and focused specifically on small cable operators,” while the FCC's proposed rules in the Commission’s NPRM “is wide-ranging and has the potential to have a seismic impact on consumers throughout the country, regardless of whether they are served by small cable companies,” the two groups said.
The groups asked the FCC to either keep to its current schedule by narrowing the scope of the proceeding solely to comments addressing the issue raised by Congress, or else to delay the deadlines until May 11 for comments and May 26 for reply comments. “The current comment deadlines are reasonable only if the scope of the proceeding is circumscribed in this manner,” NAB and PK said.
As part of a deferral, the groups asked the FCC to reverse its proposed rebuttable presumption of effective cable market competition as applied to any cable operator, or else to modify the filing process for cable operators larger than the statutory definition of small cable operators.
NCTA said the motion to modify an NPRM after its release “represents an extraordinary and improper attempt to obtain premature reconsideration of a proposed rule before the Commission even has a chance to consider it, let alone adopt it.”
Nothing prevents the FCC from proposing to modify its own rules in the area of filing effective-competition petitions for small operators, NCTA said.
The group added that the NPRM is grounded in both current marketplace experience and the law. “The reality is that over the past 22 years cable systems serving thousands of communities with millions of subscribers have been found to be subject to effective competition without any adverse, let alone “seismic,” impact on the public interest,” NCTA said.
For its part, ACA said a delay in the proceeding would interfere with the FCC's consideration of viable options in accordance with STELAR and the relief sought by small cable operators.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at email@example.com
Text of the ACA filing is at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=60001041897.
Text of NCTA's filing is at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=60001041871.
Text of the NAB/PK filing is at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=60001041508.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)