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The FCC Cuts Comcast Off at the Knees

Illustration for article titled The FCC Cuts Comcast Off at the Knees

Comcast is pissed. Per the FCC's latest vote, it can't provide cable to more than 30 percent of the country. It has a 27 percent market share right now with 26.2 million subscribers. With the FCC's 30 percent market cap, it can add fewer than 3 million new subscribers before it hits the wall, pretty much ruling out acquisitions of other cable companies or any major growth.

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FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's proposal to limit the growth of cable providers had been floating around for a bit and was sort of expected not to fly, but two of the four other commissioners have thrown in with him on the vote. It's possible—if not probable—that the courts could get involved and throw out the decision, which Reuters points out they did six years ago.

The final vote's expected to go down sometime before Dec. 18—so the two commissioners have time to change their mind—but Comcast will probably start rabble-rousing long before then. They're probably already in the vicinity anyway, going on about the FCC's decision a few weeks ago killing apartment-exclusive contracts. All in all, quite a beating for cable from the FCC this month. [WSJ, Reuters, Flickr]

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DISCUSSION

@fusiongt: The so-called "anti-monopoly" laws are kind of misnamed. They work to protect against the kind of anti competetive environment that can exist when a limited number of companies control an overwhelmingly dominant portion of a given market.

When they were first enacted they were in great measure a response to the railroad companies. There were, as in the case of Comcast/D-TV, etc, more than just one RR company, but they were able to stifle investment in other alternatives because they controlled so much of the market from production to use.

Of course it's up to lawmakers to decide what it an inappropriate measure of influence. It looks like they have done so in this case.