MSO Fined $8K for Signal Leakage

Cable signals that escape from home wiring and equipment do not absolve cable companies from complying with federal signal-leakage rules, the Federal Communications Commission ruled Monday.

The FCC’s ruling -- which included an $8,000 fine against Northland Cable Properties -- said the cable operator’s argument that 75% of the signal leakage came from home equipment (such as set-tops and modems) and inside wire did not mean that rectifying the problem was the responsibility of cable subscribers.

“Northland is charged with the responsibility of monitoring and correcting signal leaks ‘regardless of their cause to ensure that their systems comply with our cable-leakage standards, which serve a critical safety purpose,’” the FCC said.

The FCC monitors cable systems to ensure that their signals do not escape to cause harmful interference with spectrum bands used by the aviation industry.

After its Atlanta office tested two Northland systems in Georgia in March 2003, the agency concluded that the company “willfully and repeatedly” violated the leakage rules and that Northland’s request to cancel the fine because most of the leaks occurred in homes was unwarranted.

Northland also argued that its own tests found that the leaks occurred at power levels below the FCC’s maximum, but the agency said Northland’s test submissions were not convincing.

“Given the safety considerations and the fact that Northland has not offered any explanation of why its measurements were significantly lower than the Atlanta office’s measurements, we stand by … our office’s measurements and findings and find no basis to cancel or reduce the proposed forfeiture in this regard,” the FCC said.