ACA Wants FCC To Remove “Regulatory Underbrush”


The American Cable Association is asking the FCC to abolish or modify a host of cable regulations that it believes are no longer necessary or are unduly burdensome, particularly for smaller operators. The ACA filed comments Wednesday in response to an FCC Public Notice initiating a review of federal rules applicable to media entities, including cable operators, in a bid to identify those rules that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome.

“ACA applauds the FCC’s initiative to seek industry comment on clearing the regulatory underbrush that has accumulated over decades of FCC regulation of cable operators,” said ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka. “Review, elimination, or modification of the regulations ACA has identified will provide meaningful relief and allow smaller cable operators to focus their limited resources on service innovations and broadband network deployment, rather than regulatory red-tape, without any diminution in service quality or customer care.”

In the comments, the ACA urged the FCC to focus on four areas:

1. Eliminating or modifying its performance-testing obligations and related recordkeeping requirements, as well as its technical standards for analog cable systems and the requirement that operators establish a signal quality-specific complaint resolution process.

2. Reviewing several redundant and outdated recordkeeping and public inspection file rules, including the requirement to maintain a hard copy of Part 76, the duplicative Equal Employment Opportunity online posting requirements, the requirement to maintain a current channel lineup at a local system office, and the requirement to include in their public file unnecessary information about must-carry signals carried. The ACA also recommends an investigation of potential relief for cable operators from the burdens of demonstrating compliance with the children’s advertising limits.

3. Reviewing the continued need for certain customer notice obligations, including the categories of content that cable operators must provide subscribers annually, basic tier availability notices that must be provided at installation, and notices about equipment compatibility. The FCC should also eliminate from the books a regulation requiring digital TV transition notices that expired back in 2009.

4. Eliminating Form 325 or, at the minimum, no longer sample a random number of cable systems with less than 20,000 subscribers. Much of the information provided in Form 325 is available from other available sources, or serves no real utility in today’s market.

The American Cable Association represents nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized independent cable companies that provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.