FCC Seeks Comment on Retrans Notification Change

The FCC has set comment dates for its proposal to allow cable operators to provide notice to customers about potential service or rate changes "as soon as possible." 

Initial comments are due Feb. 6 and replies Feb. 21. 

The FCC voted unanimously on Dec. 12 to propose eliminating the requirement that cable operators provide their subs at least 30 days notice of a TV station channel coming off their systems, changing it to notice "as soon as possible" given that retrans deals are often struck in the 11th hour. 

Under the FCC's current rules cable ops have to provide that 30-day notice before a channel comes off if that change "is within the provider's control." The problem is that most disputes wind up being resolved in that 30-day window, so the notifications wind up being for takedowns that never happen. "[W]e don't want consumers to be inundated by premature and inaccurate notices about channel changes that never come to pass," FCC chair Ajit Pai has said of the proposed change. 

The item also seeks comment on whether "to require that notice of rate or service 

changes—regardless of whether those changes are due to failed carriage negotiations--be provided by cable operators to LFAs (Local Franchising Authorities) only if [those notices] required by an LFA."

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.