Does cable control too much? Broadband, Pay TV issues drawing more legislative looks

Cable's role in determining broadband connection speeds, and how much it costs, is raising an increasing number of questions for lawmakers in Washington who for decades have allowed the companies to operate as local monopolies with very little oversight. Cable's increasing market share--it now counts more than half of U.S. high-speed Internet subscribers, of which there are some 76 million, as customers--is worrisome enough that the FCC, even after losing its throttling battle with Comcast, says it will continue to work for a "free and open Internet."

USA Today's David Lieberman has a good look at what the fallout from Comcast's Pyrrhic victory in the court of Appeals could mean to Comcast--and the rest of the cable industry--in terms of increased scrutiny from Congress and the FCC as well as possible consumer backlash.

And, of course, there's always the chance that the Federal Communications Commission could extract its pound of flesh by blocking Comcast's merger with NBC Universal, which already has become a target of critics who say uniting the two media behemoths would give the resulting entity an unfair advantage and be a disaster for any number of viewer subsets who already have lined up against it, seeking extended public hearings and working to block the deal.

And it's not just legislators and consumers who are worries. Even within the cable industry there are rumblings about what Comcast could become with a controlling share of NBCU in its pocket.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said his company is concerned about the merger and looking at what it would mean for TW. He, and the rest of the industry and public have until May 3 to let the FCC know how they feel.

The FCC, for its part, sees broadband expansion as being at a critical juncture, and is treading carefully as it pushed Chairman Julius Genachowski's net neutrality position.

For more:
- see this USA Today article

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