National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., Inc. v. Gulf Power Co., 534 U.S. 327, 7 (2002)

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Cite as: 534 U. S. 327 (2002)

Opinion of the Court


We turn first to the question whether the Act applies to attachments that provide high-speed Internet access at the same time as cable television, the commingled services at issue here. As we have noted, the Act requires the FCC to "regulate the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments," 224(b) (1994 ed.), and defines these to include "any attachment by a cable television system," 224(a)(4) (1994 ed., Supp. V). These provisions resolve the question.

No one disputes that a cable attached by a cable television company, which provides only cable television service, is an attachment "by a cable television system." If one day its cable provides high-speed Internet access, in addition to cable television service, the cable does not cease, at that instant, to be an attachment "by a cable television system." The addition of a service does not change the character of the attaching entity—the entity the attachment is "by." And this is what matters under the statute.

This is our own, best reading of the statute, which we find unambiguous. If the statute were thought ambiguous, however, the FCC's reading must be accepted nonetheless, provided it is a reasonable interpretation. See Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 842-844 (1984). Respondents' burden, then, is not merely to refute the proposition that "any attachment" means "any attachment"; they must prove also the FCC's interpretation is unreasonable. This they cannot do.

Some respondents now advance an interpretation of the statute not presented to the Court of Appeals, or, so far as our review discloses, to the FCC. They contend it is wrong to concentrate on whose attachment is at issue; the question, they say, is what does the attachment do? Under this approach, an attachment is only an attachment by a cable television system to the extent it is used to provide cable television. To the extent it does other things, it falls outside the ambit of the Act, and respondents may charge whatever


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