FCC Bans Exclusive Contracts In Apartment Buildings

From the NY Times:

Federal regulators on Wednesday approved a rule that would ban exclusive agreements that cable television operators have with apartment buildings, opening up competition for other video providers that could eventually lead to lower prices.

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved the change, which Chairman Kevin Martin said would help lower cable rates for millions of subscribers who live in apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings, or about 25 million households. He said the move would particularly help minorities who disproportionately live in multi-unit dwellings.

What is at issue here is the exclusive contracts between cable operators and the owners of “multiple dwelling units” (MDUs). From what I understand, the FCC order appears to prohibit the enforcement of both existing and new exclusive arrangements with MDUs as anticompetitive contracts. It is well known in the economics literature that exclusive contracts, and competition for access to consumers through the use of exclusives, can generate significant pro-competitive benefits.

Read the full piece here.