MVPDs to FCC: Save That Tree!

WASHINGTON — The American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association are looking to save some trees — and themselves some green in the process.

In a request for declaratory ruling from the Media Bureau last week, the associations asked the FCC to declare that emails to subscribers for whom operators have a working email address can replace the “hundreds of millions of pages of paper” it requires annually to fulfill the FCC requirement for routine customer notifications oth at the time of a service’s purchase and at any other time upon request.

Those would include individual notices of how much a customer pays in rental fees for leased set-tops, prices and programming tier options, installation and maintenance policies, and more.

Most operators still provide a snail mail hard copy of information that MVPDs say “few subscribers read and virtually none retain.”

Making the requirement electronic, the organizations said, would help the environment, while modernizing the rules and speeding notices and updates. They also argued it would allow their members “greater flexibility to match the electronic operations of their online and other competitors.”

As precedent for the move away from paper, they pointed to the FCC’s decision to require TV stations and MVPD public files to be made available online in an FCC database rather than mandating them to keep hard copies at their main studios.

The Sierra Club has estimated that one tree translates to 10,000-20,000 pages, so let’s just say that if the trees could talk, after advising Clint Eastwood to take singing lessons, thousands of them would be saying thank you to the FCC and cable operators.

Click here to uncover the Clint Eastwood movie reference.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.