FCC’s Green Day: Cable Operators OK To E-Mail Customer Notices


Say goodbye to needless paper waste from your local MVPD.

The FCC on Thursday at its November Open Meeting adopted a Report and Order that will allow cable operators to deliver notices to their customers via e-mail, reducing costs and paper waste for both cable operators and consumers.

The action “protects subscribers” by ensuring that electronic messages are sent only to verified email addresses and that subscribers can still opt for paper delivery at any time.

The Commission also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on whether subscribers should have the option to receive notices through other electronic means such as texts or apps.

FCC rules require cable operators to provide written information to their subscribers about various service-related topics. In June 2017, the Commission issued a Declaratory Ruling clarifying that the annual notice that must be provided to subscribers can be sent via email, subject to certain consumer safeguards.

Thursday’s action expands upon this Declaratory Ruling by allowing cable operators and other pay TV companies to send additional general subscriber notices via email.  The Order also allows cable operators to respond to certain consumer requests and billing dispute complaints by email if the consumer used email to file the complaint or asks for a response via email.  In addition, the Order eliminates two outdated notice requirements in light of technological advances and market changes in the cable industry.

This action continues the Commission’s efforts to modernize regulations and reduce unnecessary requirements that can impede competition and innovation in the media marketplace and saw Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel approve in part and dissent in part.

Rosenworcel’s partial dissent was not released by RBR+TVBR‘s Thursday afternoon deadline.

The vote was met with applause from ACA President/CEO Matthew M. Polka.

“The order represents another major step toward fully modernizing the FCC’s media regulations, many of which are long past due for an overhaul,” he said. “ACA has long advocated in favor of allowing cable operators greater flexibility to communicate with their subscribers via electronic methods.  It is the way today’s consumers want to interact with their cable providers and the way their providers prefer to communicate with them.  At the same time, the Order greatly benefits the environment.  ACA members eagerly await these new rules becoming effective so they can take advantage of them.”