FCC lifts ban on exclusive cable channels


The order allows the FCC to continue to review video distribution agreements on a case-by-case basis.

Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John Markey2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall EPA chief knocks Green New Deal: 'Not really ready for prime time' How to pay for the Green New Deal: Make the fossil fuel industry pay MORE (D-Mass.), one of the authors of the Cable Act, said it is unclear whether the case-by-case review process "will provide consumers with the level of protection that is still needed in the video distribution marketplace." He said he will work with the FCC to ensure that the decision "does not tilt the playing field against consumers and choice.” 

Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Overnight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term MORE (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, said he is reviewing the decision carefully.

"I appreciate that the FCC has put into place a process by which individual complaints can be brought against cable companies that lock up their programming," he said. "But if this new process does not deter anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers, Congress will need to consider whether it should restore appropriate safeguards.”

Part of the concern stems from the fear that a cable company like Comcast could block its competitors' access to NBC news and sports channels. 

But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the decision "enables the FCC to continue preventing anticompetitive video distribution arrangements through a legally sustainable, expeditious, case-by-case review.”

The commission may have had little choice but to allow the rules to expire. Judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in 2007 that they anticipated that by 2012, the rules would no longer be justified.