WASHINGTON, DC: The US cable industry, for long spared anything other than the most rudimentary regulatory scrutiny, could become a casualty of the Federal Communications Commission's reforming zeal in the final year of its current Republican 3-2 ruling majority.

White House appointee Kevin J Martin (pictured), chairman of the FCC, plans to investigate the charges levied by cable giants such as Time Warner and Comcast for leasing spare cable channels to smaller content providers.

Martin believes this would allow cable viewers to access a wider diversity of shows. Moreover, he and his FCC colleagues are mulling a national ownership cap that would prevent one company from having more than 30% of all cable subscribers.

Said Martin in an interview Sunday: "In every other industry regulated by the FCC, there have been significant decreases in the price of services, such as long-distance [phone] and wireless rates.

"But the one exception to that is cable rates, which have gone up almost 100% [in the past decade]."

Data sourced from WashingtonPost.com; additional content by WARC staff