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In re Nondiscrimination in the Distribution of Interactive Television Services Over Cable

Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth

I have voted against the adoption of this item for two reasons.

First, I believe it is much too premature for the Commission to address the topic of cable interactive television services. While the item is framed as a Notice of Inquiry ("Notice"), it is no less damaging to raise the specter of government regulation, at this point in time, for services that are still in their gestational period. Also, by the mere adoption of this item, the Commission communicates to the public that something has gone awry in the marketplace introduction of cable interactive services--something serious enough to warrant government intervention. This simply is not the case and there is no objective evidence to prove otherwise.

Second, I have serious reservations that the Commission has the legal authority to address cable interactive services. Section 624(f) of the Act clearly states that: "Any Federal agency, State, or franchising authority may not impose requirements regarding the provision or content of cable services, except as expressly provided in this title." As the Act is void of an express statutory provision regarding ITV services over cable systems, it is arguable that the Commission is prohibited from commencing a rulemaking proceeding on the subject.

In sum, the Commission should have stayed its hand and not issued the Notice. Cable interactive services, like all new innovative technologies, should be allowed to mature free from unnecessary government involvement.