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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 98-6 CABLE SERVICES ACTION April 22, 1998


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 pleading and complaint process rules. The Commission believes that the creation of simpler, more uniform pleading process will lessen 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 . Although Section 11 does not specifically refer to cable operations, the Commission has determined that the 1998 biennial review presents an opportunity to examine all of the Commission's regulations.

Under the Commission's current Part 76 rules, the procedures for seeking Commission action on any cable television service issue vary depending on the underlying rule under which action is sought. In the Part 76 rules there are at least 13 different types of petitions or complaints that could be filed to initiate Commission action on various cable-related rules, each with unique procedural requirements. These variations have evolved as Commission rules have been adopted over a period of time in response to changes in the Communications Act and, specifically, changes in laws regarding to cable issues passed by Congress in 1984, 1992, and 1996. The Commission believes that the different pleading requirements could be more uniform.

The Commission seeks comment on which aspects of the pleading processes can be made consistent under the Part 76 rules and how the entire process can be streamlined. The initial comment deadline is June 22, 1998, reply comments are due by July 7, 1998.

Action by the Commission April 13, 1998, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-68). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth issuing a separate statement.

- FCC -

News Media contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-0852.
Cable Services Bureau contact: Thomas Horan at (202) 418-2486.

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Separate Statement of Commissioner Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth

In re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

1998 Biennial Regulatory Review --
Part 76 Cable Television Service Pleading and Complaint Rules
April 22, 1998

I support adoption of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. To my mind, any reduction in paperwork obligations or simplification of our procedural rules for regulated entities -- or "streamlining" -- is always a plus. To that extent, this item is good policy and I am all for it.

This item should not, however, be mistaken for compliance with section 11 of the Communications Act.

First of all, section 11 requires a review of all regulations that govern the operations of "any provider of telecommunications service." 47 U.S.C section 161. It does not by its terms apply to regulations governing broadcast and cable companies. I therefore understand this cable item to be premised not on section 11 (notwithstanding the caption, which might suggest otherwise) but on our general authority to change our rules when appropriate under section 4(i) and related provisions of the Communications Act.

Second, this item focuses, as do some pure section 11 items that we have issued,(1) on procedural rules governing filings at the Commission as opposed to substantive rules that limit what companies can do in the marketplace, e.g., regulations that restrict market entry or limit market share. As stated above, it is certainly important that in the course of the Biennial Review we evaluate our procedural rules and modify or eliminate them if necessary. But section 11 requires us to look at both procedural and substantive rules and make an affirmative finding of their continued necessity.

If all we do is "streamline" certain procedures at the Commission, without also examining all pertinent substantive rules and making the statutorily-required determinations of necessity, we will fail to meet the express directive of section 11.

As I have previously explained, I question whether the FCC is prepared to meet its statutory obligation to review all of the regulations covered by section 11 in 1998. See generally 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review -- Review of Computer III and ONA Safeguards and Requirements, __ FCC Rcd __ (released Jan. 30, 1998). To my knowledge, the FCC has no plans to review affirmatively all regulations applicable to the operations or activities of telecommunications providers and to make specific findings as to their continued necessity. Nor has the Commission issued general principles to guide our "public interest" analysis and decisionmaking process across the wide range of FCC regulations.

We should not let this item, which does not relate to telecommunications rules and focuses only on procedural matters, or any other limited Commission analysis be mistaken for full compliance with Section 11.

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1. By this I mean items regarding rules applicable to telecommunications providers.