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FCC Extends Cable Rate Dereg Comment Period

The FCC's Media Bureau has revised the comment dates for its Oct. 23 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on cable rate deregulation, extending them for a couple of weeks.

The initial dates had been Dec. 27 for comments and Jan. 28 for replies, but since the first deadline fell between two federal holidays—Christmas and New Year's, the FCC has decided to give attorneys a holiday break and move those dates.

The new ones are Jan. 10 for comments and Feb. 11 for replies.

The FCC was not responding to a request to move the dates, but decided to do so on its own initiative, or "sua sponte" as the lawyers call it.

Stakeholders are weighing in on various rate dereg moves, including whether to deregulate the rates of smaller operators in part because there may be none still subject to the basic rate regs.

Among other things, it is also seeking comment on whether it should simplify the rate reg framework for everyone, eliminate rate regs by local franchise authorities on equipment used to receive cable service beyond basic, and tentatively concludes it should deregulate rates for commercial customers including bars and restaurants, pointing out that it has never applied its rate regs to cable business customers anyway.

The Oct. 23 item also included a Report and Order (R&Os) that takes the regulatory whacker into the weeds, getting rid of rules the FCC says are obsolete, like ones linked to non-basic service no longer regulated; or are unnecessary given current industry practices, or for other reasons; it also sunsets some obsolete forms. Among the R&O's other housecleaning measures is to codify that where an operator offers its equipment for sale and lease, the sale price is unregulated.

That order becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which happened Tuesday (Nov. 27), so it becomes effective Dec. 27