FCC Cable Rule Change Good News For New Yorkers... Someday

The FCC is set to approve a new rule Wednesday that would ban exclusive contracts between cable companies and apartment-building landlords. We first wrote about the proposed rule in September; the New York Times took another look at it yesterday. This is good news for New Yorkers whose landlords have exclusive agreements with cable providers like Time Warner Cable (TWC), Cablevision (CVC), and RCN (RCNI). More competition should eventually mean lower prices. It’s also excellent news for phone companies like New York-based Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), which are rolling out digital TV service to compete with cable and satellite providers.

If the FCC strikes down exclusive cable deals, Verizon should have a much easier time installing its new pipes in many New York apartment buildings. (The company said today that about 25% of its lines across the country are in apartment buildings.) But this impact won’t be felt here for a while: it will still be a long time before Verizon’s TV service is on sale in New York. The telco first has to build out its network across more of the city and then apply for and negotiate a cable franchise licence — which can take several months or even years. In the short term, you could see some jockeying as tenants in TWC/CVC buildings look at RCN, and vice-versa.

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