Thursday, January 31, 2008

FCC Amends Video Leased Access Rules

The FCC adopted rules aimed at promoting video programming diversity. Cable operators are required by statute to set aside channel capacity for commercial use by unaffiliated video programmers (leased access channels). However, in its most recent annual cable price survey, the FCC found that cable systems on average carry only 0.7 leased access channels.

The new Order tries to remove several obstacles that may be hindering the use of leased access capacity, including clarifying the information that cable operators must be prepared to provide in response to inquiries, and the time in which it must be provided.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wrote: "Section 612 of the Communications Act requires the Commission to promote "competition in the
delivery of diverse sources of video programming." Unfortunately, however, our existing leased access rules were simply not achieving their intended purpose. For example, the Commission's most recent cable price survey found that cable systems on average carry only .7 leased access channels. The record suggests that the leased access regime has been extremely underutilized because of artificially high rates. Our order, therefore, is designed to increase the use of leased access channels and thereby enhance the diversity of programming."

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