In a potentially huge victory for Comcast, the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC threw out a rule limiting cable companies to under 30 percent of the market. The courts claimed that the FCC failed to take into account competition from satellite and fiber-optic providers when considering competition.
Comcast currently controls about 25 percent of the cable market, with about 23.7 million customers. With the law now vacated, the company will have an easier time looking for potential acquisitions to expand its reach.
The rule has an interesting history: it was first implemented in 1992 as part of an effort to control monopolization of the cable industry. The court declared the law unconstitutional in 2001, and had it set aside. That didn’t stop the FCC: in 2007, on a 3-2 vote it re-instituted the policy.
Analysts say that its unlikely that Comcast will acquire large cable operators, as there is not a significant enough benefit to doing so. However, with no roadblocks, the nation’s largest cable operator is pretty much free to get as big as it wants.