Court says: No exclusive deals for cable companies in apartment buildings


The Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., upheld a Federal Communications Commission ruling that barred cable companies from retaining the exclusive right to provide service in buildings they wired.

Prior to this ruling, people who lived in co-ops, condominiums, and apartment buildings were subject to an unfair and monopolistic tyranny: One cable company had exclusive rights to the entire building and could basically charge people whatever it wanted to charge -- or they would have to live without cable.

This was blatantly anti-competitive, and allowed cable companies and developers to ripoff consumers, many of whom probably didn't know about the exclusivity deals before they committed to their units. Under the FCC's ruling, exiting deals of this nature cannot be enforced and new ones cannot be created.

"Incumbent cable companies were actively walling off competition to consumers living in apartments and condos through these exclusive access arrangements," said AT&T in a statement. "This decision recognizes the FCC's authority and prohibits unfair practices by cable companies that limit competition and consumer choice for video service."

"The net result is that many consumers are likely to wind up paying more for services if the FCC's interference in the competitive marketplace stands," a Comcast official said in a statement.

That's right: A Comcast official says that banning apartment and condominium developers from locking their residents into long-term commitments with one service provider "interferes with the competitive marketplace." Is that really they best they can come up with?