Nov
21
2008

New Cable Show: 'I Can't Believe The Chutzpah'

Blogging communications attorney Harold Feld (WetMachine, 11/14/08) thinks he

missed a class in law school. Not once in my Administrative Law class did my professor ever tell me that you could respond to a federal investigation by telling the agency, "We know you have authority, but we'd rather not answer these questions because you are a great big meany." But then, I'm not working for the cable industry, which has repeatedly shown it has trouble with the concept that federal law really applies to them, and that the FCC is supposed to be a regulator, not a lap dog.

Today's episode of "I Can't Believe the Chutzpah" comes from the ongoing investigation by the FCC over whether cable operators are using the confusion around the DTV conversion to push users into buying digital tier service… or just generally violating the law by changing channel line-ups without notice to either subscribers or local franchise authorities, migrating stuff off basic tier without warning, or charging for additional tiers to get channels required by law to be available on the basic tier.

So, "after getting a bunch of consumer complaints… the FCC sent out a bunch of letters of inquiry to the named cable companies" and said "they had two weeks to reply." The cable conglomerates' belligerent response?–they simply "sent a lengthy letter to the FCC explaining that the FCC is not allowed to investigate the cable industry."