Thursday, June 4, 2015

FCC To Allow Cable To Raise Rates Without Local Okay

Reversing a 22-year-old stance, the FCC has adopted a change where cable providers can raise their rates on basic programming without getting the OK from local governments, an agency source tells Bloomberg.

It's a move that broadcasters opposed but reportedly passed unanimously as the agency sees national satellite providers offering competition across markets.

The change isn't a tremendous watershed -- recently, the FCC has been approving nearly all cableco requests to get free of local rate-setting. And Comcast says only about 17% of its subscriber base was subject to local regulation.Still, it frees a burden from the cablecos (the burden of proof now lies on localities) while broadcasters worry that their audience could be cut if and when cablecos put broadcast signals into a pricier tier.

A collection of Senators have written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler worried that the move would give "unnecessary" benefits to large cablecos when Congress wanted simpler procedure for smaller cablecos.

The FCC said it was changing its 22-year-old rule because the market has changed, with nationwide competition from satellite television. Neil Grace, an agency spokesman, in an e-mail called the proposal “a common-sense update for today’s video marketplace to reduce regulatory burdens on all cable operators -- large and small.”

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