FOR YOUR INFORMATION............................NOVEMBER 26, 1991
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION STAFF OPPOSES PROPOSED FCC "MUST-CARRY" RULE FOR CABLE TV SYSTEMS
Staff of the Federal Trade Commission, in comments made public today, expressed its opposition to a proposed reinstatement of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules requiring cable television systems to carry the signals of local TV stations. The comments were submitted in response to an FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning reinstituting signal carriage ("must-carry") requirements. The previous must-carry rules -- adopted by the FCC in the 1960s when cable television's principal function was to provide improved reception of local TV signals -- required cable systems to carry all local broadcast signals. In the 1980s, these rules were held unconstitutional. The purpose of the NPRM is to deter- mine whether signal carriage requirements are currently needed in the marketplace and, if so, how they should be structured.
Taking into consideration the preferences of cable sub- scribers, the FTC staff recommends that the FCC not adopt new signal carriage requirements. A must-carry requirement could force cable systems to carry relatively low-rated stations in place of programming that cable subscribers value more highly, the FTC staff said.
Evidence reviewed by the FTC staff suggests that, when the must-carry rules were struck down, most of the local broadcast stations were still being carried voluntarily by the cable systems that formerly were required to carry them. Local stations that were dropped tended either to duplicate existing network programming signals or to generate relatively low view- ship. This suggested to the FTC staff that cable systems were attempting to respond to viewer preference.
FTC staff also examined whether must-carry rules could provide competitive benefits by preventing cable systems from acquiring or exercising market power in advertising markets. The staff concluded there is insufficient evidence of such a possible problem to justify adoption of new must-carry rules.
- more - (Cable TV Advocacy -- 11/26/91)
The comments represent views of FTC staff and do not necessarily reflect those of the Commission or any individual commissioner.
Copies of the comments are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY 1-866-653-4261.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Don Elder, Office of Public Affairs 202-326-2181
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