Cable getting a kinder, gentler FCC?


A dispute between cable companies and independent program suppliers was referred to an administrative law judge, than yanked back for FCC consideration after the judge missed a deadline, is now on its way back to the judge.

The battle is over complaints from Wealth TV, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and the NFL Channel, which in their separate ways charged various large cable companies with treating their programming unfairly, and favoring competing programming in which they have an interest. The FCC of alleged cable foe Kevin Martin sent the dispute to the ALJ accompanied with reference to its belief that the programmers have a legitimate gripe. The ALJ found the matter to be complicated and wanted all parties to have a chance to fully prepare a case. As soon as the ALJ missed a prescribed deadline, Martin pulled the matter and sent it back to the Media Bureau. Now Martin is gone, and the case is going right back to the ALJ.

RBR/TVBR observation: It always seemed like Martin never missed an opportunity to take a swipe at big cable. We don’t know how the ALJ will rule, but the fact that the three-member 8th Floor is heavily weighted toward media reformers Copps and Adelstein, who you would think off the top of your head would favor any underdog against any large media conglomerates, and THEY thought everybody should have adequate time to state their case, has to be a positive omen for cablers everywhere.