The cable TV industry has won a big victory against rate regulation via a court decision that will make it harder for cities and towns to impose price controls on pay-TV service.
Today’s ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a June 2015 decision by the Federal Communications Commission that helped cable companies avoid local rate regulation. The FCC, under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, ruled that cable TV providers face “effective competition” nationwide, mainly because of the widespread availability of satellite TV service from DirecTV and Dish.
Local franchise authorities are allowed to regulate the rates cable TV providers charge for basic cable services and equipment if the local cable company does not face “effective competition.” Before the June 2015 FCC vote, the burden of proof was on cable companies to show that they faced effective competition. The Wheeler FCC’s decision shifted the burden of proof to local authorities by adopting a “rebuttable presumption” that cable operators face effective competition.