NYT: Restructuring Cable Regulation
Posted on Sep 6, 2009
As fewer and fewer media companies serve more and more people, it’s odd that a court would strike down limits on media ownership. But that’s what happened last week when a cap on coverage for individual cable companies was overturned. Check out a New York Times editorial on the issue that argues for a fundamentally new approach to media regulation. —J.C.
The New York Times:
To foster media competition, the Federal Communications Commission has limited individual cable companies to serving no more than 30 percent of the nation’s subscribers. A federal appeals court struck down that cap last week. It is an unfortunate decision, but in reality, the 30 percent cap was not getting the job done. The ruling should prod the F.C.C. to find a fresh approach.
In 1992, Congress directed the F.C.C. to promote price competition and diversity of programming in cable television by imposing reasonable regulations on the industry. The F.C.C. responded with the 30 percent cap. The courts struck it down, and the commission adopted it again, with a new rationale.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has now thrown it out again. The court, which found the cap “arbitrary and capricious,” objected that the F.C.C. did not take into account the competition from satellite television providers and the growth in the number of channels now available.
The New York Times editorializes that the FCC’s just-discarded subscriber cap for cable companies didn’t go far enough.