Lobbyists 1, Kevin Martin 0: FCC Compromises On New Proposal

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin thought he had the support of the two Democratic commissioners when he went forward with a proposal to invoke powers given to the FCC in the 1984 Cable Communications Act. The 70/70 rule, as it’s called, allows the FCC to adopt any rules necessary to promote a “diversity of information sources,” once 70% of households can receive cable and 70% of them subscribe.

Martin says he has data that proves the cable industry has reached 70/70. The cable industry says Martin’s data is wrong.

It’s too bad for Martin that the lobbyists got to the commissioners before it was time to vote.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Martin had thought earlier this month that he had the support of two of the agency’s Democrats for his original proposals, which would have given him a majority of the five-member agency. The commission’s two Republicans had in varying degrees publicly questioned some of the proposals.

But after the recent lobbying barrage, Mr. Adelstein, who is up for renomination soon, began to express reservations about the proposals.

Republicans in the House and Senate sent letters to Mr. Martin echoing the industry’s concerns, as did senior cable television and network executives.

Now would be a good time to contact your representatives in the House and Senate and thank them for pressuring the FCC on your behalf. Because of their swift action, the FCC was unable to put a cap on the growth of Comcast, our nation’s largest cable company, and could not adopt rules aimed at lowering prices for consumers, such as the al la carte cable that Martin is so fond of.

Under the compromise, cable companies will have two months to submit the numbers of customers and size of their markets, which the agency could use next year to determine whether the industry had reached the threshold for more regulation.

Cable Industry Wins Compromise on F.C.C. Plans [NYT](Thanks, Gil!)