As the Federal Communications Commission moves to force rate cuts under the 1992 Cable Ad, the industry calls the new rules ponderous and punitive and says they will prevent system upgrades.
Fortified by bagels and coffee from the breakfast buffet, more than 4,000 attendees of May's National Cable Television Association convention in New Orleans filed into a cavernous exhibition hall. On stage was a home entertainment center equipped with the latest in interactive, cable-delivered technologies -- a cozy place in which a few modest pieces of furniture surrounded a television that had been wired for hundreds of channels and was connected to a computer that could receive volumes of high-speed data in the blink of an eye.
But the conventioneers weren't there to watch television -- they were there to fight for their future. And they exploded into applause as NCTA President Decker Anstrom took the stage to excoriate the Federal Communications Commission, which he and his audience believe is pursuing policies that strike at the heart of the cable industry's ability to acquire and provide new technologies for the home of the near future.
"You have a right to your frustration and your anger!" he told the crowd. "What Washington did to this industry was nothing less than a political caning. We have already initiated the fight on the FCC's most recent ruling in federal court." The audience roared its approval.
Anstrom was referring to a revised mandate on cable system rate regulation the FCC issued at the end of March. By virtue of the 1992 Cable Act, the FCC claims statutory authority to regulate the amount cable systems charge home subscribers for cable …