October 08, 1999
FCC RELAXES CABLE OWNERSHIP
source: Excite News
The FCC voted recently to relax cable television ownership limits slightly, but the new rules are still seen as likely to force AT&T Corp. to pare back its acquisition of MediaOne Group Inc.
posted on October 08, 1999 02:35 PM
AT&T did appear to gain some useful concessions, including an FCC decision that a cable company shouldn't have to count under the ownership limits any partnerships where it is not involved in decisions about programming.
No. 2 cable operator AT&T has lobbied the FCC to unwind the limits so it can acquire No. 3 operator MediaOne and overtake Time Warner Inc. as the biggest cable television provider.
Under current rules, also under challenge in court, no company may have access to more than 30 percent of the U.S. homes capable of being hooked up to cable, often referred to as cable homes passed.
At a public meeting, the FCC voted to keep a 30 percent limit but said it should apply to actual cable subscribers, and expanded that subscriber base by adding satellite television customers. That would work out to 30 percent of about 80 million cable and satellite subscribers, or a 24 million limit for a single company.
The FCC voted to retain the rules that count subscribers coming from ventures that involve a five percent or greater voting stake.