NCTA Pushes FCC for Opt-Out Electronic Notifications

Cable operator ISPs have been pushing hard against an opt-in regime for sharing user data with third parties, but there is another opt-in regime they are concerned about avoiding.

In a phone call with the office of Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn, NCTA–The Internet & Television Association VP and deputy general counsel Diane Burstein argued against applying that regime to how broadband operators provide required notifications to their customers. 

The FCC signaled this week it would be voting on a request for declaratory ruling by NCTA and the American Cable Association that they be allowed to email those notifications rather than have to send out paper. 

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has signaled support for that ruling, so it is expected to pass, but how it is implemented is also important to ISPs. 

Burstein told Clyburn staffers that though operators would continue to offer paper notices to customers who wanted them, the default should be electronic unless a sub opts out and chooses paper. "[R]equiring opt-in consent before permitting cable operators to send the notices via electronic means would essentially negate the intended benefits of the Petition." Those include "reducing waste and energy consumption, as well conserving water." 

"The record indicates that customers increasingly prefer electronic communications to 'snail mail,'" NCTA and ACA said last year in asking for the change. They said they would only use the electronic option with customers for which they have a verified email address. 

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.