Before the Cable Act became law, a number of obstacles had retarded cable television's growth and development. One such obstacle involved private landowners, especially real estate developers and landlords. By the 1980s, many developers were attempting to physically exclude franchised cable television disseminators from their developments so that the resulting captive audience could be served, on an exclusive basis, by the developer or someone with whom the developer had contracted. These exclusionary practices represented a serious problem, since it is estimated that half of all new residential construction in the United States is now in the form of planned or multiple-dwelling unit (MDU) type developments. By 1984, some state decisions had applied standard principles of easement law to largely solve the problems created by attempts to exclude franchised cable television firms from residential developments. These state easement cases hold that, if a landowner has granted an easement across private property which is compatible with the uses to which cable television would put the easement, the easement holder can subsequently apportion the easement and allow cable television to co-use the easement, without landowner consent. In California, such easement cases were first discussed and applied in Salvaty v. Falcon Cable Television.
Richard D. Harmon,
Co-Use of Compatible Private Easements by Cable Television Franchisees Under the 1984 Cable Act: Federal Refinement of an Established Right, 22 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.