FCC to Apartment-Dwellers: Pick Your TV Poison

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FCC to Apartment-Dwellers: Pick Your TV Poison

Thu Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:49AM PST

Posted by Matthew Belloni

Kevin_martin_fcc_2 Finally, some non-expletive-related news from the FCC. Commissioner Kevin Martin (pictured) took a break from his crusade against indecency on TV to announce a ban on apartment owners making exclusive deals with cable providers that leave tenants with no choice about who get their cable TV from. Here's the THR story.

The decision makes illegal the common practice of big-city building owners making deals with cable companies to serve entire apartment buildings. From the story:

Advocates of the rule, which overturns a 2003 decision by the panel, say that it has kept phone companies, satellite TV providers and others from gaining access to those customers who are particularly important in cities like New York.

"People that live in apartment buildings deserve to have the same choices as people that live in the suburbs," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said before the vote. "In today's item, the commission found that people who live in apartment buildings often have no choice of companies when it comes to their video service provider. This is because building owners often strike exclusive deals with one cable operator to serve the entire building, eliminating competition."

The cable companies argue new rule will lead to higher prices because big apartment building owners were able to cut sweetheart deals to grant a monopoly over their tenants. And at least according to a spokeswoman for Comcast, the whole thing might end up in court over the FCC's voiding of thousands of existing contracts. Stay tuned. 

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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