The National Cable and Telecommunications Association President and CEO Michael Powell held a media briefing on Thursday to talk about what the trade group calls significant legal vulnerabilities of the FCC’s set-top box proposal.
“The proposed rules are riddled with gaping holes and leave unresolved major legal problems that the rules themselves would create,” a legal white paper released in tandem with the press conference charges. “The FCC may not adopt rules that create such problems and then leave the industry to sort out the mess. Nor may it ignore the vast societal costs its rules would impose through the forced restructuring of an industry and nullification of copyright interests.”
NCTA’s outside counsel use the paper to state that Article 629 of the Communications Act only authorizes the FCC to promote third-party equipment for consumers to access their pay TV service, and it does not permit the FCC to order unbundling of that service to support the creation of new, derivative, third-party services.
A blog titled “The FCC Set-Top Box Mandate Is Not Only Unnecessary but Legally Unsustainable” also was posted by NCTA detailing the association’s arguments.
“The proposed rules would violate the provision in the Communications Act that prevents the FCC from treating TV providers as nothing more than dumb pipes for the transmission of programming to anybody who wants it — that is, as ‘common carriers,’ ” it says.
The proposals also would exceed the constitutional limits of the FCC’s authority, according to NCTA. “They violate the free speech rights of TV programmers and distributors and place regulatory authority in the hands of biased, unaccountable private entities, including the standards-setting bodies and the self-certification system,” the blog further charges.
Filed Under: Industry regulations