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FCC watching cable TV closely

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Scott Jagow: The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to vote today on stricter regulations for cable TV. The Wall Street Journal says that vote could be delayed. There’s some internal squabbling at the FCC, and the White House doesn’t like what the agency is up to. John Dimsdale explains what’s at stake here.


John Dimsdale: In the 1980’s, Congress decided once TV cables reached 70 percent of the nation’s households, and if 70 percent of them chose cable, it was time to trim cable’s sails.

The Media Access Project’s Andrew Schwartzman says companies breached that threshold several years ago:

Andrew Schwartzman: It’s long past time when the FCC should be cracking down on cable ownership, diversity of programming and making the cable industry more responsive.

The FCC chairman agrees, and is calling on other commissioners to vote to pull the so-called 70-70 trigger.

But once that happens, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s Kyle McSlarrow worries the FCC will impose price controls.

Kyle McSlarrow: The last time the FCC regulated prices it was devastating to consumers, because it just stopped investment and innovation cold.

Consumers may pay less, but get less programming, he says.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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