NO CASE MADE TO REGULATE NASCENT INTERACTIVE TV SERVICES, NCTA SAYS TO FCC
Washington, DC -- Pro-regulation advocates have failed to make a legal, factual, or public policy case for intruding on market forces, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association argued in its reply comments to the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on interactive TV services.
"The initial round of comments in this proceeding confirms what was obvious from the outset: It is not only extremely premature but also counter-productive and contrary to the public interest to contemplate regulating interactive television," NCTA wrote. "The prospect of regulating ITV at this time should be unthinkable, wholly apart from any jurisdictional or constitutional barriers to such regulation. But … there are such barriers - and they are insurmountable," NCTA argued.
A solution to developing the nascent interactive TV industry already exists: the same market-driven negotiations that cable operators and its content providers have employed to develop and launch hundreds of programming services. "Like other terms and conditions surrounding the carriage of program networks, carriage of ITV downstream enhancements and the availability of upstream capacity can and should be negotiated, not imposed by the government," NCTA wrote.
Market-driven solutions to ITV deployment are best, especially considering that pro-regulation advocates were unable to identify a problem to solve. The filing noted there was no evidence offered by any commenters of unfair or anti-competitive behavior by cable operators against unaffiliated providers of ITV services.
Moreover, regulating the nascent sector could harm interactive TV development. "Not all of the services being developed or on the drawing boards are likely to survive the test of the marketplace in any event," NCTA said. "But the risks of developing new services and the difficulties of attracting investment capital should not be compounded by the threat of a wholly inappropriate regulatory scheme."
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), formerly the National Cable Television Association, is the principal trade association of the cable television industry in the United States. NCTA represents cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation’s cable television households and more than 150 cable program networks, as well as equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry. In addition to offering traditional video services, NCTA's members also provide broadband services such as high-speed Internet access and telecommunications services such as local exchange telephone service to customers across the United States.
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The filing is available via the "download attachment" link above.