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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. CS 98-13 CABLE SERVICES ACTION July 20, 1998

(CS DOCKET NO. 98-132)

As part of an ongoing effort to streamline the regulatory process, the Commission has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to simplify the Part 76 Cable Television Service public file and notice requirement rules. The Commission believes that the creation of simpler, more uniform public file and notice requirements will lessen any confusion and reduce the regulatory burden on franchising authorities, cable operators and other parties. This action is initiated in conjunction with the 1998 biennial regulatory review process.

The Part 76 cable television rules contain numerous public file, notice, record keeping, and reporting requirements. These requirements provide consumers with information about the services they receive and the rates they pay. For example, cable operators must notify subscribers before increasing rates and must maintain records demonstrating compliance with certain safety and quality standards. These requirements also support the rights of programmers, and they strengthen the Commission's efforts to enforce its rules and promote competition in the multichannel video industry. Cable operators have expressed frustration and difficulty in identifying some of these requirements and organizing them in a workable manner. The Commission seeks ways to streamline and improve the public file and notice requirements while at the same time continuing to protect consumers, enforce our rules, and promote competition.

The Notice seeks comment on:

  • whether and how the Commission should reorganize the Part 76 public file and notice rules to make identification and compliance easier

  • the difficulty by cable operators of collecting and maintaining information, especially when that information is infrequently used or readily available through another source

  • which requirements have become unnecessary, deserve consolidation, or can be otherwise improved

  • consolidating the public file rules to lessen the confusion and burden created by their location in several places

  • whether there are alternative ways to make public file information available

  • using the Internet to fulfill filing requirements and making access easier for the public

The initial comment deadline is September 10, 1998, reply comments are due by September 25, 1998.

Action by the Commission July 13, 1998, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-132). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing a statement.

-FCC -

News Media contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-0852.
Cable Services Bureau contact: Donald Fowler, Jr. at (202) 418-2486.
TTY: (202) 418-7172

Separate Statement of Commissioner Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth

In re: Streamlining of Cable Television Services, Part 76 Public File and Notice Requirements, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- CS Docket No. 98-54

I support adoption of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In my view, any reduction of unnecessary regulatory burdens is beneficial. To that extent, this item is good and I am all for it. This item should not, however, be mistaken for complete compliance with Section 11 of the Communications Act.

As I have explained previously, the FCC is not planning to "review all regulations issued under this Act . . . that apply to the operations or activities of any provider of telecommunications service," as required under Subsection 11(a) in 1998 (emphasis added). See generally 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- Review of Computer III and ONA Safeguards and Requirements, 13 FCC Rcd 6040 (released Jan. 30, 1998). Nor has the Commission issued general principles to guide our "public interest" analysis and decision-making process across the wide range of FCC regulations.

In one important respect, however, the FCC's current efforts are more ambitious and difficult than I believe are required by the Communications Act. Subsection 11(a) -- captioned "Biennial Review" -- requires only that the Commission "determine whether any such regulation is no longer necessary in the public interest." (emphasis added). It is pursuant to Subsection 11(b) -- entitled "Effect of Determination" -- that regulations determined to be no longer in the public interest must be repealed or modified. Thus, the repeal or modification of our rules, which requires notice and comment rulemaking proceedings, need not necessarily be accomplished during the year of the biennial review. Yet the Commission plans to complete roughly thirty such proceedings this year.

I encourage parties to participate in these thirty rulemaking proceedings. I also suggest that parties submit to the Commission -- either informally or as a formal filing -- specific suggestions of rules we might determine this year to be no longer necessary in the public interest as well as ideas for a thorough review of all our rules pursuant to Subsection 11(a).

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