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                                                                   DA 11-1373

                                                               August 8, 2011

                                             Enforcement Advisory No. 2011-09




   On August 8, 2011, new rules governing "CableCARDs" take effect. A
   CableCARD allows a consumer to access cable programming using a digital
   cable-ready television set or a retail set-top box ("navigation device")
   instead of renting a set-top box from a cable operator. Cable operators
   must provide subscribers with CableCARDs upon request. Over the years, the
   Commission has received a variety of complaints from consumers concerning
   their efforts to obtain and use CableCARDs. The Commission adopted new
   rules to improve consumers' experience with retail CableCARD devices. The
   new rules require cable operators to provide accurate information about
   retail set-top boxes and ensure that consumers are treated similarly,
   whether they choose to buy a retail device or rent a device from their
   cable provider.

   This Enforcement Advisory underscores the Commission's commitment  to 
   "strictly enforce our navigation device rules in order to ensure proper
   support for CableCARD devices." We encourage cable operators to review
   their policies, procedures, and operations to ensure that they comply with
   the rules. The Enforcement Bureau will review complaints carefully to
   determine if cable systems comply with the rules.

   What are cable operators required to do?  Beginning August 8, 2011, cable
   operators must:

     * Provide accurate information about the capability of retail
       CableCARD-compatible devices. Cable operators must not mislead their
       customers regarding the ability of retail CableCARD-compatible devices
       to tune switched digital channels. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(c).

     * Discount packaged services for subscribers who do not rent devices.
       Cable operators must reduce the price of programming packages that
       include set-top box rentals by the cost of the set-top box rental for
       customers who use retail devices. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(5).

     * Price CableCARDs uniformly and disclose fees prominently. Cable
       operators must price CableCARD rental fees uniformly across a cable
       system whether the CableCARD is used in a leased set-top box or a
       retail device. Cable operators must separately and conspicuously
       disclose CableCARD fees, in writing, at the time of installation of
       service and annually, as well as on their websites (in a manner that
       is readily accessible to the public) or billing inserts. At a
       subscriber's request, they also must provide such information orally
       or in writing. See 47 C.F.R. S:S: 76.1205(b)(5), 76.1602(b).

     * Not impose discriminatory fees on retail CableCARD-compatible devices.
       Cable operators must not assess service fees on consumer-owned devices
       that they do not assess on leased devices. See 47 C.F.R. S:
       76.1205(b)(5). This rule ensures that "cable operators are not
       subsidizing the costs of their set-top boxes via service charges and
       will serve to allow consumers to compare the costs involved in
       choosing between purchasing or leasing a navigation device."

     * Permit self-installation of CableCARDs. Cable operators that permit
       their subscribers to self-install any equipment must also allow
       subscribers to self-install CableCARDs beginning August 8, 2011. Cable
       operators that do not currently permit self-installation of any
       equipment must allow self-installation of CableCARDs beginning
       November 1, 2011. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(1).

     * In any professional installation, arrive with the correct number of
       functioning CableCARDs. The new rules address consumer complaints that
       CableCARD installations often require multiple appointments because
       installers arrive without the requested number of functional
       CableCARDs. Technicians now must arrive with at least the number of
       CableCARDs requested by the subscriber. Cable operators also must make
       good-faith efforts to (i) ensure that all CableCARDs delivered to
       customers or brought to professional installation appointments are in
       good working condition and compatible with their subscribers' devices,
       and (ii) allow subscribers to request CableCARDs using the same
       methods that subscribers can use to request leased set-top boxes. See 
       47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(3).

     * Provide multi-stream CableCARDs. Cable operators must provide
       multi-stream CableCARDs by default, unless a subscriber expressly
       requests a single-stream CableCARD. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(2).

     * Ensure access to all linear channels. Consumers have identified
       problems accessing switched digital channels on their retail
       CableCARD-compatible devices. Cable operators must ensure that
       subscribers can use their retail devices to access all of the linear
       channels that comprise the cable package to which they subscribe.
       Operators also must ensure that retail devices can tune at least four
       simultaneous channels, or as many switched digital channels as that
       operator's most sophisticated operator-supplied set-top box, whichever
       is greater. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(4).

   Need More Information? For more information regarding compliance with and
   enforcement of the CableCARD rules, email the Enforcement Bureau at or call 202-418-1160. Complaints may be filed online
   at Additional information about CableCARDs and
   consumers' rights is available at  and at
   Please direct media inquiries to David Fiske at 202-418-0513 or

   To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
   (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at
   202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the
   Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at 202-418-1148 for further information
   about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at
   1-888-Tell-FCC (1-888-835-5322).

                                         Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau


   CableCARDs are referred to in the Federal Communications Commission's
   rules as point-of-deployment modules ("PODs"). See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. S:

   The rule sections affected by the amendments include 47 C.F.R. S:S:
   76.640, 76.1201-05, and 76.1602. As described below, the requirement to
   permit self-installation takes effect for some cable operators on November
   1, 2011.

   See Implementation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996,
   Third Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration,  25 FCC Rcd 14657,
   14672 P: 28  (2010) (Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices Third
   Report and Order), Order on Reconsideration, 26 FCC Rcd 791 (2011)
   (Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices Order on Reconsideration), 
   Erratum, DA 11-1117 (rel. June 28, 2011).

   The discounted amount must be no less than the monthly rental fee
   reasonably allocable to the lease of the operator-supplied device included
   in the programming package. 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(5)(D).

   This rule applies only when consumers use their retail
   CableCARD-compatible device to receive video services provided by their
   cable operator. See Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices Order on
   Reconsideration, 26 FCC Rcd at 792 P: 4.

   Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices Third Report and Order, 25
   FCC Rcd at 14668-69 P: 19. See also 47 U.S.C. S: 549(a).

   Cable operators may decline requests for self-installation if neither the
   manufacturer nor the vendor of the retail CableCARD-compatible device
   provides installation instructions and a toll-free telephone number for
   product support, but only for so long as such instructions and toll-free
   number are not provided. See 47 C.F.R. S: 76.1205(b)(1)(A).

   See Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices Third Report and Order,
   25 FCC Rcd at 14672 P: 27.

   See id. at 14671 P: 25.

   See id. at 14665-67 P:P: 13-14.

   See id. at 14666-67 P: 14. The term "linear programming" is generally
   understood to refer to video programming that is prescheduled by the
   programming provider, i.e., channels other than on-demand programming.
   Linear programming includes premium channels and channels delivered by
   switched digital technology.

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                            FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

   Federal Communications Commission

   445 12th St., S.W.

   Washington, D.C. 20554

                                        News Media Information 202 / 418-0500


                                                          TTY: 1-888-835-5322

                                        News Media Information 202 / 418-0500


                                                          TTY: 1-888-835-5322

   Federal Communications Commission

   445 12th St., S.W.

   Washington, D.C. 20554