Cox Communications Inc. has asked the Federal Communications Commission to repeal Fairfax County's authority to set its rates for basic cable and equipment.
The petition comes a week after Verizon Communications Inc. began offering video services in some parts of Fairfax County, putting new pressures on the traditional cable provider. Cox is asking the FCC to declare Fairfax a competitive jurisdiction that does not need regulators to set prices to protect consumers.
"In this market we probably have more competition than anywhere in the nation," said Kathryn Falk, vice president of government affairs of Cox Communications of Northern Virginia. "Lifting these regulations would give us more flexibility . . . to respond to our competitors."
The FCC originally gave local governments the authority to regulate basic cable rates because often there was only one provider serving a region. But in recent years satellite cable companies and telecommunication firms, such as Verizon, have begun offering alternative options, and they are not subject to the same regulations as traditional cable companies.
"Everybody argues that they are not playing on a level playing field," said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications Inc., a Bethesda research firm. "So the cable industry really does want to get out of any kind of regulation."
So far this year the FCC has received 363 such petitions to repeal regulations in communities throughout the country. The agency granted 255 of the requests and dismissed three. The rest are still under review.
Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell said the company had not reviewed Cox's petition.