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FCC's Martin encounters resistance to 70-percent ruling

Steven Kim

It's no secret that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has big plans for tomorrow's meeting of the FCC. There are several proposals on the agenda that will impact on the cable industry if passed, but the most ominous for the cable industry is the imposition of the "70% rule." This bit of legislation grants the FCC more regulatory power over cable operators and programmers if cable penetration in the U.S. reaches 70%. Martin has cited a figure of 71.4% from an annual publication put out by Warren Communications News, but that number is couched with claims that the measurement is "accurate but not reliable" due to incomplete information disclosed by some cable operators. With a disclaimer like that, it's no wonder that the majority of FCC members have sought out external validation on the numbers. Lo and behold, a Wall Street analyst has emerged to say the figure is no higher than 60.5% based on SEC filings of the eight publicly traded operators. Expect some back-and-forth over the numbers tomorrow!

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