47 U.S. Code § 533 - Ownership restrictions
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(a) Cable operator holding license for multichannel distribution or offering satellite service
It shall be unlawful for a cable operator to hold a license for multichannel multipoint distribution service, or to offer satellite master antenna television service separate and apart from any franchised cable service, in any portion of the franchise area served by that cable operator’s cable system. The Commission—
(1) shall waive the requirements of this paragraph for all existing multichannel multipoint distribution services and satellite master antenna television services which are owned by a cable operator on October 5, 1992;
(2) may waive the requirements of this paragraph to the extent the Commission determines is necessary to ensure that all significant portions of a franchise area are able to obtain video programming; and
(c) Promulgation of rules
The Commission may prescribe rules with respect to the ownership or control of cable systems by persons who own or control other media of mass communications which serve the same community served by a cable system.
(d) Regulation of ownership by States or franchising authorities
Any State or franchising authority may not prohibit the ownership or control of a cable system by any person because of such person’s ownership or control of any other media of mass communications or other media interests. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State or franchising authority from prohibiting the ownership or control of a cable system in a jurisdiction by any person
(1) because of such person’s ownership or control of any other cable system in such jurisdiction; or
(2) in circumstances in which the State or franchising authority determines that the acquisition of such a cable system may eliminate or reduce competition in the delivery of cable service in such jurisdiction.
(e) Holding of ownership interests or exercise of editorial control by States or franchising authorities
(1) Subject to paragraph (2), a State or franchising authority may hold any ownership interest in any cable system.
(2) Any State or franchising authority shall not exercise any editorial control regarding the content of any cable service on a cable system in which such governmental entity holds ownership interest (other than programming on any channel designated for educational or governmental use), unless such control is exercised through an entity separate from the franchising authority.
(f) Enhancement of effective competition
(1) In order to enhance effective competition, the Commission shall, within one year after October 5, 1992, conduct a proceeding—
(A) to prescribe rules and regulations establishing reasonable limits on the number of cable subscribers a person is authorized to reach through cable systems owned by such person, or in which such person has an attributable interest;
(B) to prescribe rules and regulations establishing reasonable limits on the number of channels on a cable system that can be occupied by a video programmer in which a cable operator has an attributable interest; and
(2) In prescribing rules and regulations under paragraph (1), the Commission shall, among other public interest objectives—
(A) ensure that no cable operator or group of cable operators can unfairly impede, either because of the size of any individual operator or because of joint actions by a group of operators of sufficient size, the flow of video programming from the video programmer to the consumer;
(B) ensure that cable operators affiliated with video programmers do not favor such programmers in determining carriage on their cable systems or do not unreasonably restrict the flow of the video programming of such programmers to other video distributors;
(C) take particular account of the market structure, ownership patterns, and other relationships of the cable television industry, including the nature and market power of the local franchise, the joint ownership of cable systems and video programmers, and the various types of non-equity controlling interests;
(D) account for any efficiencies and other benefits that might be gained through increased ownership or control;
(F) not impose limitations which would bar cable operators from serving previously unserved rural areas; and
(g) Combination of interests under prior law
This section shall not apply to prohibit any combination of any interests held by any person on July 1, 1984, to the extent of the interests so held as of such date, if the holding of such interests was not inconsistent with any applicable Federal or State law or regulations in effect on that date.
Source(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title VI, § 613, as added Pub. L. 98–549, § 2,Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2785; amended Pub. L. 102–385, § 11,Oct. 5, 1992, 106 Stat. 1486; Pub. L. 103–414, title III, § 303(a)(22),Oct. 25, 1994, 108 Stat. 4295; Pub. L. 104–104, title II, § 202(i), title III, §§ 302(b)(1),Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 112, 124.)
1996—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–104, § 202(i), redesignated par. (2) as subsec. (a) and subpars. (A) and (B) of par. (2) as pars. (1) and (2) of subsec. (a), respectively, added par. (3), and struck out former par. (1) which read as follows: “It shall be unlawful for any person to be a cable operator if such person, directly or through 1 or more affiliates, owns or controls, the licensee of a television broadcast station and the predicted grade B contour of such station covers any portion of the community served by such operator’s cable system.”
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 104–104, § 302(b)(1), struck out subsec. (b), which related to common carriers, direct video programming, an exception for rural areas, and waiver.
1994—Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 103–414substituted “pole, line, conduit space” for “pole line conduit space”.
1992—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 102–385, § 11(a), designated existing provisions as par. (1) and added par. (2).
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 102–385, § 11(b), substituted “any other media” for “any media” and inserted at end “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State or franchising authority from prohibiting the ownership or control of a cable system in a jurisdiction by any person (1) because of such person’s ownership or control of any other cable system in such jurisdiction; or (2) in circumstances in which the State or franchising authority determines that the acquisition of such a cable system may eliminate or reduce competition in the delivery of cable service in such jurisdiction.”
Subsecs. (f) to (h). Pub. L. 102–385, § 11(c), added subsec. (f) and redesignated former subsecs. (f) and (g) as (g) and (h), respectively.
Effective Date of 1992 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 102–385effective 60 days after Oct. 5, 1992, see section 28 ofPub. L. 102–385, set out as a note under section 325 of this title.