AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The decision is the latest in a series of actions by the commission under Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, to put pressure on cable companies to lower their rates and make their markets more competitive. In December, in a 3-2 decision, the commission approved a proposal by Martin to force municipalities to accelerate the local approval process for the telephone companies to enter new markets. Martin has also pressed the cable companies to offer so-called a la carte plans that would permit subscribers to buy individual channels, or groups of channels, at lower rates than they now pay. The change would be an abrupt reversal for the commission, which only four years ago ruled that such exclusive agreements sometimes actually promoted competition by giving landlords the leverage to negotiate for the best terms. WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission, hoping to reduce the spiraling costs of cable television, is preparing to strike down thousands of contracts this week that shut out competitors by giving individual cable companies exclusive rights to provide service to apartment buildings, the agency’s chairman says. The new rule could open markets across the country to competition. It would be a huge victory for Verizon Communications and AT&T, which have challenged the cable industry by offering their own video services. The two phone companies have lobbied aggressively for the provision. They have been supported in their fight by consumer groups, satellite television companies and small rivals to the big cable providers. Commission officials and consumer groups said the new rule could significantly lower cable prices for millions of subscribers who live in apartment buildings and have had no choice in selecting a company for paid television. Government and private studies show that when a second cable company enters a market, prices can drop as much as 30 percent. The change, which is set to be approved Wednesday, is expected to have a particular effect on prices for low-income and minority families. They have seen cable prices rise about three times the rate of inflation over the last decade. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Writers Guild of America board members voted unanimously Friday to begin the strike at 12:01a.m. unless studios offered a more lucrative deal with a bigger cut from video sales and shows sold or streamed over the Web. “The studios made it clear that they would rather shut down this town than reach a fair and reasonable deal,” Patric Verrone, president of the western chapter of the guild, said at a news conference. The union said it would stage its first pickets in New York and Los Angeles after strike captains meet today to finalize details. Both sides agreed late Friday to meet with a federal mediator on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike. The meeting will take place at a neutral location to be determined, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said. Earlier in the day, J. Nicholas Counter, president of the producers’ group, called the writers’ strike “precipitous and irresponsible” in a prepared statement. DISPUTE: Mediator will meet with group and producers Sunday, but plans move ahead. By Gary Gentile The Associated Press Film and TV writers prepared to go on strike Monday for the first time in two decades to break what has become a high-stakes stalemate with the world’s largest media companies over profits from DVDs and programming on the Internet. Producers believe progress can be made on other issues but “it makes absolutely no sense to increase the burden of this additional compensation” involving DVDs and the Internet, he said. Last year alone, members of the western chapter of the guild were paid $56 million in additional compensation from DVD residuals, he said. Counter declined a request by The Associated Press for further comment. Among other media giants, the alliance represents CBS Corp., NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co., and The Walt Disney Co., owner of the ABC network. The negotiations began in July and were joined this week by the mediator. The first casualty of the strike would be late-night talk shows, which are dependent on current events to fuel monologues and other entertainment. “The Tonight Show” on NBC will go into reruns starting Monday if last-ditch negotiations fail and a strike begins, according to a network official. Garth Brooks and Tommy Lee Jones were the scheduled guests. Comedy Central has said “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” would likely go into repeats as well. A message left seeking CBS comment on plans for “The Late Show with David Letterman” in New York was not immediately returned Friday evening.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!