NMHC, NAA Sue FCC for Banning "Exclusive Access" Agreements

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington D.C — The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this Wednesday asking the court to repeal the FCC’s regulations banning “exclusive access” agreements between cable providers and apartment owners announced in October last year.Before the regulation was announced, apartment building owners could utilize exclusive access contracts as a bargaining tool to negotiate lower rates, better product availability and enhanced service standards for their residents, according to the NMHC and NAA.Exclusive access agreements, they argue, also enable smaller video firms to gather the initial investment required to wire a property.“These misguided regulations reveal a total lack of understanding on the FCC’s part about how the multifamily video market actually works,” says Jim Arbury, NMHC/NAA’s senior vice president of government affairs.The NMHC/NAA lawsuit argues that the FCC lacks the legal authority to regulate agreements between private property owners and video providers and that the regulations are based on erroneous and unproven assertions about market conditions. “Exclusive access contracts were the primary means through which apartment owners could force the large cable firms to lower their prices and improve their service offerings.  By taking this bargaining tool away from owners, the FCC has essentially removed a key incentive the cable firms had to negotiate with apartment owners,” says Arbury.