Parting CATV shot from Martin


Exiting FCC Chairman Kevin Martin fired off one last letter to key legislators on the topic of rising cable prices, accompanied by diminished service. “In short,” he wrote, “cable customers have been receiving less from cable companies but paying the same price or, in some cases, more.” Martin reiterated that cable prices have doubled on average over the last ten years while the price on most other communications services has been decreasing.

The letter went to the party leaders on the Senate Commerce Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

He said it is “universally accepted” that cable rates are up dramatically. “And now, when cable operators migrate analog channels to a digital tier, consumers are forced to pay more if they wish to continue watching the same channels. Or consumers may continue to pay the same amount to watch fewer channels. This is not the type of consumer choice that the Communications Act envisions.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The FCC has indicated via its localism proceeding that it is not utterly impressed with broadcasters’ efforts as a group to serve the public interest these days, but that level of disappointment pales beside Martin’s evident displeasure with the cable industry. In fact, broadcasters can melt into the background as Martin focuses his attention on standing CATV in the corner. We can only hope that Martin’s attitude conveys with the office furniture when chair Julius Genachowski moves in.