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commercial television broadcast stations to require a cable system to carry the
station. More popular stations, such as those affiliated with a national
network, typically elect retransmission consent, which is the broadcast signal
carriage requirement that allows local commercial television broadcast stations
to negotiate for payments for granting permission to the cable operator to carry
the stations. Must carry requests can dilute the appeal of a cable system's
programming offerings because a cable system with limited channel capacity may
be required to forego carriage of popular channels in favor of less popular
broadcast stations electing must carry. Retransmission consent demands may
require substantial payments or other concessions. Either option has a
potentially adverse effect on our business. The burden associated with must
carry may increase substantially if broadcasters proceed with planned conversion
to digital transmission and the Federal Communications Commission determines
that cable systems must carry all analog and digital broadcasts in their
entirety. This burden would reduce capacity available for more popular video
programming and new internet and telecommunication offerings. A rulemaking is
now pending at the Federal Communications Commission regarding the imposition of
dual digital and analog must carry.
     ACCESS CHANNELS.  Local franchising authorities can include franchise
provisions requiring cable operators to set aside certain channels for public,
educational and governmental access programming. Federal law also requires cable
systems to designate a portion of their channel capacity, up to 15% in some
cases, for commercial leased access by unaffiliated third parties. The Federal
Communications Commission has adopted rules regulating the terms, conditions and
maximum rates a cable operator may charge for commercial leased access use. We
believe that requests for commercial leased access carriages have been
relatively limited. A new request has been forwarded to the Federal
Communications Commission, however, requesting that unaffiliated Internet
service providers be found eligible for commercial leased access. Although we do
not believe such use is in accord with the governing statute, a contrary ruling
could lead to substantial leased activity by Internet service providers and
disrupt our own plans for Internet service.
     ACCESS TO PROGRAMMING.  To spur the development of independent cable
programmers and competition to incumbent cable operators, the 1992 Cable Act
imposed restrictions on the dealings between cable operators and cable
programmers. Of special significance from a competitive business posture, the
1992 Cable Act precludes video programmers affiliated with cable companies from
favoring their cable operators over new competitors and requires such
programmers to sell their programming to other multichannel video distributors.
This provision limits the ability of vertically integrated cable programmers to
offer exclusive programming arrangements to cable companies. Recently, there has
been increased interest in further restricting the marketing practices of cable
programmers, including subjecting programmers who are not affiliated with cable
operators to all of the existing program access requirements, and subjecting
terrestrially delivered programming to the program access requirements.
Terrestrially delivered programming is programming delivered other than by
satellite. These changes should not have a dramatic impact on us, but would
limit potential competitive advantages we now enjoy.
     INSIDE WIRING; SUBSCRIBER ACCESS.  In an order issued in 1997, the Federal
Communications Commission established rules that require an incumbent cable
operator upon expiration of a multiple dwelling unit service contract to sell,
abandon, or remove "home run" wiring that was installed by the cable operator in
a multiple dwelling unit building. These inside wiring rules are expected to
assist building owners in their attempts to replace existing cable operators
with new programming providers who are willing to pay the building owner a
higher fee, where such a fee is permissible. The Federal