As the FCC moves forward with efforts to modernize its media regulations, the American Cable Association is calling on the commission to ditch a number of current rules around recordkeeping, performance testing, and customer notifications.
In a filing submitted to the FCC last week, ACA urges the commission to eliminate current regulations that require operators to conduct semi-annual technical proof-of-performance tests and hold on to records of those tests for five years. The association notes those rules were instituted back in the 1990s in response to a report that found a “pattern of technical problems with cable service.” But those issues, ACA claims, have been resolved by “advancements in technology that have taken place since then” and increased competition in markets. As a result, “signal quality is no longer an issue that requires regulatory intervention,” and the remaining “burdensome” requirements should be scrapped, the group writes.
Similarly, ACA asks the Commission to revisit several other regulations with an eye toward elimination, including a requirement to keep a hard copy of Part 76 rules, what it called a “duplicative requirements” around Equal Employment Opportunity information posting, a rule requiring an operator to maintain a current channel lineup at its local system office, and the amount of information cable operators must record on their lists of must-carry signals. ACA wrote of the latter that “whatever purpose the rule was intended to serve, it is now unnecessary and at times redundant, as much of this information is available to the public elsewhere.”
The ACA also wants the FCC to review whether a number of customer communications are still necessary, including basic tier availability, equipment compatibility, and annual cable customer notifications. Streamlining these regulations will help alleviate “notification burdens” placed on operators and avoid “notice fatigue” among customers, the group notes.
NCTA – The Internet and Television Association in its own filing last week seconded ACA’s requests to drop the 90s-era testing and channel-lineup reporting requirements, and also called on the Commission to slash customer notification requirements. On the latter, NCTA also asked for permission to deliver information to customers electronically – specifically by simply posting it on its website. The FCC last month gave the go ahead for operators to email annual notices to their customers, but further simplification should also be considered, the group noted.
“Permitting electronic delivery of certain required notices is a significant first step in reducing the burdens of compliance with this rule and modernizing the Commission’s regulations to better reflect consumers’ communication preferences. The Commission should now take the next step and look with a fresh eye at whether there is any legitimate reason to require cable operators, and cable operators alone, to send this routine information to customers – or whether including it on a company website for viewing at any time as needed should be sufficient,” NCTA writes.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has previously said the move to streamline media regulations has the same end goal as the Commission’s biennial review: updating rules to “match the realities of today’s marketplace.”
“We want to modernize our rules in order to better promote the public interest and clear a path for more competition, innovation, and investment in the media sector. This is simply good government,” he commented.
Filed Under: Industry regulations