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Summary:

Kevin Martin’s FCC is giving telco television a boost by passing new rules that are designed to speed up the local video franchising process. In other words, yet another sop to the telecoms, something Martin has been doing for pretty much his entire tenure. The rules […]

Kevin Martin’s FCC is giving telco television a boost by passing new rules that are designed to speed up the local video franchising process. In other words, yet another sop to the telecoms, something Martin has been doing for pretty much his entire tenure. The rules say that the local governments have 90 days to make up their mind!  The rules were passed by a 3-2 vote, with FCC commissioners voting along the party lines.

Martin points out that since cable rates are going up, the competition would be good for the consumers and telcos’ are spending billions on these new networks. Something tells me, competition is not the primary reason . Telecoms are expanding to video because they are losing their grip over the core business: voice.

No surprise, the telcos like it. Walter B. McCormick Jr., President and CEO of USTelecom, a lobbying/trade group was quick to issue a statement.

The Commission’s order is a critical step forward in bringing consumers greater choices, exciting new services and vibrant video competition. Across the country, large and small telecom service providers are spending billions of dollars investing in new infrastructure to deliver high-speed Internet and innovative video services to their communities.

Michael Copps, the Democratic commissioner isn’t buying it.

agreeing on the many benefits of video competition is hardly the same thing as coming up with rules that will actually encourage honest-to-goodness competition within the framework of the statutes that Congress has given us. The item before us today doesn’t get us there and I cannot support it as written.

Martin, by trying to supersede the local government is skating on thin ice. The political pressure from the local government extends right to Washington DC, and it won’t surprise me at all that this is going to have some Beltway types asking for Martin’s head.

The complete documents are available on the FCC website.

  1. Paul Kapustka Tuesday, March 6, 2007

    Insiders also expect a legal challenge to follow quickly, since it’s not clear whether the FCC actually has any legal authority in this domain. Cableco lawyers are busy racking up billable hours as you read.

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  2. [...] a 90-day deadline for local governments to either award or deny requests for video services. As Om points out today over on GigaOM, this is less about enhancing competition and more about making it easier for the [...]

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  3. John Thacker Tuesday, March 6, 2007

    In other words, yet another sop to the telecoms, something Martin has been doing for pretty much his entire tenure.

    Except of course for the rulings the FCC handed down last week about local telecoms having to let the cable companies and other VoIP providers attach to their network.

    Telecoms are expanding to video because they are losing their grip over the core business: voice.

    Which is inconsistent with the idea that it could bring more competition and be good how exactly? Cable company (and other) competition in the voice space has been good.

    Companies raise and lower rates out of exactly the same motive: greed. The quest for profits consumes most companies. The motive has little to do with whether it would be a good idea or not.

    There are local governments that have suffered “regulatory capture,” where the cable company and the regulators get together and agree to pass on monopoly rates to consumers. Monopoly cable TV is not a lot of fun. That doesn’t mean that this is necessarily a good idea, but surely you haven’t even made an argument against it.

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  4. Om,

    Obviously we take exception. Telcoms feeling competition, BigCable is hearing our footfalls — can’t you allow how that’s good news for consumers? See Eric’s post on this at Verizon’s PolicyBlog: http://policyblog.verizon.com/policyblog/blogs/policyblog/ericrabe9/245/seeing-good-news-for-consumers-too-hard-for-some.aspx

    CZ
    w/ Verizon

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