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NCTA Backs FCC on Headend Reporting Requirement

In comments to the FCC, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association made its case for why the FCC should eliminate its requirement that cable operators keep a copy of their principal headend location on public file.

The FCC in May proposed axing the last local file obligations for broadcasters and cable operators as it completed the transition to online public files. NCTA is all for the move, which would mean it would not have to keep open a local file for a single piece of information it says few want access to anyway.

Cable operators, under FCC orders, have migrated their public files to that online database but doing so for the location of their principal headend—the nerve center of their program distribution operation—was considered a security risk, so as part of the switch-over to online filings the FCC allowed cable operators to keep a copy locally rather than post it online.

But the FCC has proposed eliminating that requirement, saying it will not adversely affect the public.

NCTA agrees: "While this requirement provides no public benefits, it is hardly cost-free.  Rather, the requirement to retain headend location information locally requires cable operators to incur costs to maintain the public file in a place accessible to the public – all to house and make available just one document of no legitimate interest to members of the general public. Continuing to require principal headend location information in the public file thus serves no valid purpose," NCTA said in comments filed at the FCC.

Instead, the cable trade group backs the FCC's proposed alternative that the information be supplied "on request" to certain government entities—local franchising authorities, or the FCC—and broadcasters who "may have a legitimate need to access principal headend location information."

That location can be relevant for must-carry and retrans purposes, and cable operators still must provide notice in writing if they move that location.

"Nearly 25 years after stations obtained their must-carry rights under the 1992 Act, it is unlikely that many television stations will have a continuing need to obtain this information or, if there were such a need, that a station would look for it in a cable system’s local public file," NCTA said.