TWX » Topics » Ownership Limitations.

This excerpt taken from the TWX 10-K filed Mar 11, 2005.
Ownership Limitations. There are various rules prohibiting joint ownership of cable systems and other kinds of communications facilities. Local telephone companies generally may not acquire more than a small equity interest in an existing cable system in the telephone company’s service area, and cable operators generally may not acquire more than a small equity interest in a local telephone company providing service within the cable operator’s franchise area. In addition, cable operators may not have more than a small interest in “multichannel multipoint distribution services” facilities or “satellite master antenna television” systems in their service areas. Finally, the FCC has been exploring whether it should prohibit cable operators from holding ownership interests in satellite operators.

      The Communications Act also required the FCC to adopt “reasonable limits” on the number of subscribers a cable operator may reach through systems in which it holds an ownership interest. In September 1993, the FCC adopted a rule that was later amended to prohibit any cable operator from serving more than 30% of all cable, satellite and other multi-channel subscribers nationwide. The Communications Act also required the FCC to adopt “reasonable limits” on the number of channels that cable operators may fill with programming services in which they hold an ownership interest. In September 1993, the FCC imposed a limit of 40% of a cable operator’s first 75 activated channels. In March 2001, a federal appeals court struck down both limits. The FCC is currently exploring whether it should re-impose any limits. The Company believes that it is unlikely that the FCC will adopt limits more stringent than those struck down.

      Local telephone companies may provide service as traditional cable operators with local franchises or they may opt to provide their programming over unfranchised “open video systems.” Open video systems are subject to specified requirements, including, but not limited to, a requirement that they set aside a portion of their channel capacity for use by unaffiliated program distributors on a non-discriminatory basis. A federal appellate court overturned various parts of the FCC’s open video rules, including the FCC’s preemption of local franchising requirements for open video operators. The FCC has modified its open video rules to comply with the federal court’s decision.

     

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