updated 12:15 pm EDT, Wed October 31, 2007
FCC opens cable exclusives
Following through on earlier indications, the FCC has voted to approve a ban on exclusive cable company deals with apartment buildings. While possibly forcing prices lower in initial bidding, such contracts can bar tenants from choosing cheaper or superior services later on, and have been present during the rise of cable fees at three times the rate of inflation. The Associated Press reports that some 25 million Americans may be affected by the ban. Cable companies have previously protested anti-exclusivity measures, arguing that they are illegal and tend to provide a better deal for subscribers.
The successful motion was backed by AT&T and Verizon, both phone companies with a vested interest in promoting their own Internet and TV services to formerly inaccessible customers. Verizon has issued a statement celebrating the FCC's decision, with senior VP of federal regulatory affairs Susanne Guyer saying, "The FCC decision will provide access to new competitive options for residents of these properties and encourages further deployment of broadband networks."
This view stands in contrast to previous actions by Verizon, which has fought to prevent open access to wireless technology, a provision of the upcoming FCC auction for the 700MHz spectrum. The spectrum will become available to various companies in February 2009, when over-the-air analog TV ceases broadcasting in the United States.