Sen. Kerry Weighs in on Cable Rates

Are you unhappy with your cable TV subscription rates? Have you been faced with increases year after year? Apparently, this has been such a point of contention among Comcast customers in the Boston, Massachusetts area that the mayor filed a petition with the FCC. He wants the feds to give his city the power to control cable rates. The FCC lets communities control the basic rate if there is no competition in the market, but Boston lost that control in 2002 when the FCC determined that there were enough other cable companies active in the area. Comcast argues that there’s plenty of competition, especially when you consider the satellite options that are available.

Well, remember to play nice out on the playground or one of the big kids might notice and get involved. In this case, U.S. Senator John Kerry has asked the FCC to put together a report on cable TV rate increases in Boston and other Massachusetts markets. It happens that Kerry chairs a Senate subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, so it’s likely that the FCC is going to open the letter when they see his name on the envelope. He asks “whether rate hikes are specific to Boston or systemic, if the hikes are justified, and what the factors are that can effectively check those rate hikes.”

It’s entirely possible that Comcast’s rates are justified and reasonable, but shining a bright light on cable rates in this manner is a bit of publicity that I suspect nobody in the cable industry wants. I suspect that a lot of people will be watching closely to see what the FCC comes up with in response to Senator Kerry’s request.