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FCC Proposes Pruning Cable Reporting Requirements

The FCC has voted unanimously to seek comment on eliminating the requirement that collect a bunch of data from cable systems annually, including on "network structure, system-wide capacity, programming, and number of subscribers."

It was an oasis of comity in an otherwise generally contentious series of votes on high-profile issues including media ownership, lifeline reform, and next-gen TV.

The form 325 info must be submitted by all cable systems with 20,000 or more subs and is required from a random sample of smaller systems.  

The proposal is the latest in a serious of deregulatory moves FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has branded the Modernization of Media Regulation proceeding.

The FCC wants input on whether the costs of the form's data collection outweigh the benefits, and whether there may be another, less burdensome way, to collect it.

"We should allow [cable operators] to focus their time and resources on competing for customers in today’s dynamic video marketplace, not filling out FCC forms," said Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Clyburn suggested she was suspicious of eliminating a data reporting requirement, but said she was OK with seeking comment, including on questions she had that had been added, including "whether eliminating Form 325 would hinder the Commission’s ability to evaluate the state of competition among cable systems? Whether any information contained in Form 325 is specifically helpful to consumers and if it is possible to make this data publicly available sooner than the current three-year timeframe?"

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.