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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

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).

May 3, 2000
Michelle Russo at (202) 418-2358

Appropriate Enforcement Action Will Be Considered Later

The FCC Cable Services Bureau has ruled that Time Warner Cable violated an FCC rule when the cable operator ceased carriage of ABC stations on its cable systems in several markets during the “sweeps” rating period, currently running from April 26 through May 24. The FCC will consider separately what enforcement action is necessary. FCC rules require that cable companies carry television stations throughout the duration of a sweeps period, regardless of whether the station has elected must carry or retransmission consent for its cable carriage. The clarification provided by today’s action will protect consumers from experiencing a disruption in viewing a local television station during the sweeps period.

On May 1, 2000, ABC filed an Emergency Petition with the FCC for declaratory ruling and enforcement order, or, in the alternative, for immediate injunctive relief seeking a Commission order directing Time Warner Cable to comply immediately with the Commission’s rules. On May 2, 2000, Disney/ABC and Time Warner reached a temporary agreement that results in carriage of the ABC programming until July 15, 2000. Today’s ruling clarifies the FCC’s rules in this area.

The Bureau said section 614(b)(9) of the Communications Act and section 76.58 of the FCC rules are clear and absolute in their terms – no deletion of a local commercial television station shall occur during a sweeps period. In 1993, when the FCC enacted rules to implement the 1992 Cable Act, the agency ruled that the prohibition of the deletion of television signals during the sweeps period applies to both the must carry and retransmission consent situations. Action by the Chief, Cable Services Bureau, May 3, 2000 by Memorandum Opinion and Order (DA 00-987).