Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Integration Ban and Integrating DTV Transition Policy

NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow has sent a letter dated October 31 to the leadership of the Commerce Department and the FCC Chairman and Commissioners explaining--again--why postponement of the implementation of the FCC's Integration Ban is necessary to facilitate the DTV transition in the least costly and most economically efficient way. McSlarrow's letter is here and it speaks for itself. His main point is that, if implemented, the integration ban will add $2-3 to the monthly price of a converter box that if leased by a cable consumer will avoid the need for payment of the DTV "over the air" subsidy. In other words, unless the integration ban is postponed, different parts of the government will be working at cross-purposes.

Recently I published a CNET commentary and also a longer scholarly paper urging the FCC, at a minimum, to postpone the implementation of the integration ban. As I explain in those two pieces, unlike the case with some issues where the FCC's authority to grant regulatory relief is less clear, in this instance the agency's authority is crystal clear. This is a case in which you would hope that the Commission--or at least a Commission majority--attuned to removing and relieving unnecessary regulatory burdens in a fast-changing communications environment would want to act quickly to show its seriousness of purpose.