D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Cable Ownership Cap


On August 28, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion in Comcast Corporation v. FCC, which vacated the FCC's 30% limit on the number of subscribers to which a cable operator could offer service.

The 30% cap, created in 1993, was initially intended to promote competition in the cable television market and increase consumer access to diverse network programming. In 1993, however, the cable television market was dominated by large companies that had exclusive monopoly franchises in particular geographic areas. Since that time, the cable television landscape has changed dramatically. Now, direct broadcast satellite companies provide programming to approximately one-third of subscribers, consumers have access to significantly more channels of programming than ever before, competitive wireline providers are expanding rapidly, and alternate transmission methods of video media are playing ever-increasing roles in the lives of consumers.

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