Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), former Chairman of the Telecommunications subcommittee and current senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to extend the program access rules under the Cable Act of 1992 that sunset this Friday. The rules, Rep. Markey writes, promote competition and provide consumers with choices in the video distribution marketplace. Twenty years ago, Congress directed the FCC to adopt rules prohibiting exclusive programming arrangements by vertically integrated cable companies in an effort to promote competition. In his letter to the FCC, Rep. Markey points to cable dominance nationally and in key regional markets as a reason for extending the rules, as well as costly and time-consuming litigation that would ensue in case-by-case adjudication of disputes in lieu of the current rules.
"The sunset of the program access rules could lead to a new dawn of less choice and higher prices for consumers," said Rep. Markey. "If we do not extend the program access rules, the largest cable companies could withhold popular sports and entertainment programming from their competitors, reducing the competition and choice that has benefitted consumers. I urge Chairman Genachowski and the FCC Commissioners to extend the program access rules that have helped to level the playing field in the paid television marketplace."