FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s plan to impose greater regulation on the cable industry may have hit a snag as members of Congress, along with Martin’s fellow commissioners, have questioned the chairman’s rationale and methodology for the new regulatory proposals, the Wall Street Journal reports. The FCC is scheduled to meet today (11/27) to vote on a number of proposals aimed at greater FCC regulation, but as of this morning, it had become questionable whether the commission would indeed take up the issue. The Wall Street Journal reports that four Republican Senators and 23 Republican House members have expressed “deep concern” about the new regulatory plans in a letter to Martin. A particular point of dispute is a new data in a report from Martin’s staff that found that 71.4 percent of households with access to cable subscribe. Under a 23-year-old law, the FCC has the right to impose greater regulations if cable adoption goes above 70 percent. Martin is using the findings in the staff report as justification to exert broader authority over the cable industry. Trouble is, this 71 percent finding by Martin’s staff runs counter to all other current market research. The new FCC report says cable TV is available to 94.2 million U.S. homes, of which 67.2 million subscribe. These numbers are risible. To find anything close you have go back almost eight years to 2000, when Cable World magazine reported that cable TV passed 101.1 million homes, of which 67.3 million subscribed, Even then, this was still less than the 70 percent threshold.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.