Under the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 (the Cable Act), municipal regulation of rates for cable television service has been effectively preempted by the FCC for the vast majority of domestic cable systems. At the same time, the Cable Act affirmed the right of each municipality to "award .. .one or more franchises within its jurisdiction." In addition, "a cable operator may not provide cable service without a franchise." Thus, in a single stroke, the federal government eliminated local rate regulation and granted municipalities the power to control entry and award de facto monopoly franchises.
Albert K. Smiley,
Regulation and Competition in Cable Television,
Yale J. on Reg.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjreg/vol7/iss1/4