Back in June, we highlighted an interesting legal fight between LUS Fiber, a municipally owned Lafayette, La. based triple play provider, and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC). NCTC is a buying consortium for small cable companies, offering discounted rates for expensive programming content, based on the aggregation of their member’s subscribers.
LUS Fiber wants to join NCTC to gain access to their cheaper programming costs, but has been denied membership so far by NCTC. LUS has cried foul and accused their main competitor, Cox Communications, who is NCTC’s largest member and holds a board seat, of blocking their membership. The dust up has led to LUS filing a complaint with the FCC, alleging anticompetitive conduct, and hoping for some type of relief.
The NCTC responded with a lawsuit, claiming the complaint should be heard and settled in federal court, not at the FCC. But as 2theadvocate.com reports, U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Vratil tossed out that lawsuit and ruled that the FCC should have jurisdiction over this complaint, not the federal courts.
But before all the munis and telcos who have unsuccessfully tried to join NCTC rejoice too loudly, this case is far from over. The FCC hasn’t even ruled as to when they will hear this case, much less offer any judgment on it. It’s not entirely clear what ruling, if any, the FCC could make and what impact that ruling would have on the controversy surrounding NCTC and its rather ‘gray area’ cooperative membership criteria. Would be interested in any qualified legal professional’s take on this ongoing debate in the comments section below. Stay tuned.
5 thoughts on “NCTC Membership Lawsuit Tossed Out”
FCC can't/won't change NCTC rules. They are a private company. What telcos/munis should be doing is closing ranks and banding together to build their own scale for not just programming, but everything. That independent streak we have will be our down fall if we don't.
FCC isn't going to do anything towards this-NCTC is a private company and isn't the only game in town. Go to NTTC, (National Telco Television Consortium out of Memphis TN). NTTC has great service/pricing and care about all their members success.
There is a lot of gray area in what the FCC can and can't do. It seems that almost every decision they make anymore is appealed to the courts anyway.
Since we are throwing out random Federal entities that might have some clout here, I vote for the IRS being involved to strip the NCTC of its favorable tax status as a cooperative since they have such capricious rules for membership.
Of course, I would also agree that their rates are not that great anyway. We actually got in by some fluke of fate and we still get more than half of our programming elsewhere.
To the point of banding together, telcos and munis should be talking to NRTC (www.nrtc.coop) about their content aggregation serivces. NRTC can even help negotiate retrans.
Good ideas include the FCC + FTC + IRS as well as your elected politicians to call for deregulation that will work, like NTT in Japan.
But I have a better idea…
Have all the FTTH bi directional synchronous providers band together and form their own IP TV network cooperative. You could solicit the many independent TV/Movie studios (there are hundreds in Los Angeles), heck give them a series of channels to provide content for your customers. The Cable companies could always pay you to make your content available on their limited networks. Sell advertising and move on past these 20 year old out dated infrastructure roadblocks.
Its their fault for not innovating since the 1990s, we have given them enough money, estimated at over $900 Billion to date. Instead they waste $1.5 Million per week lobbying American officials to put up anti-competitive roadblocks….leave them in the dust!
@ are their Twitter names.
Map of US FTTH Providers: http://sn.im/1axal4 which consists of Greenlight, @greenlightnc; Utopia, @UTOPIAnet; EPB, @EPB_Chattanooga; LUS, @LusFiber; Google, @google, @GoogleTV.
Who else is being mistreated by the Telco and Cable Companies with respect to Net Neutrality, Quality of Service, Peering, Bandwidth throttling…seek them out as well. Perhaps Hulu would be interested. Start talking to independent TV, Movie and Film studios all over the world…there are hundreds in Los Angeles that are hungry and looking for opportunities to provide content to Americans.
A recent Twitter post:
@LusFiber @EPB_Chattanooga @greenlightnc @UTOPIAnet @google @GoogleTV form your own content Coop# IPTV #Network + #LA Indep #Studios #FTTH
I know I would love to help such an organization become successful in America.
Reminds me of that Star Wars saying, "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope." Which reminds me the SciFi Channel might be interested as well. Talk about a celestial bright future…
Talk about the promotional capital, you guys would be American saviors, bringing opportunity and jobs to Americans…and we need them! America needs some new heros, you guys up for the challenge?