Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New Cable Rate Regs May Fall Short on Consumer Rate Relief

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

New Cable Rate Regs May Fall Short on Consumer Rate Relief

Article excerpt

The long awaited FCC rules that govern rate regulation by cable television franchising authorities have been released. The 500-plus page document covers everything from how to get certified in order to regulate rates to how to file a complaint with the FCC.

In accordance with the rules, cable operators must comply as of June 21, 1993. Highlights of some of the steps in the rate regulation process are as follows:

* Establishes a series of national per channel benchmark rates for cable systems based on the number of subscribers, cable channels and satellite-distributed programming on a cable system. The benchmark rate may be adjusted to reflect a cable system's "external costs," including franchise fees, costs of complying with franchise requirements (including PEG costs required by a franchise), state and local taxes applicable to the provision of cable service, retransmission consent fees (beginning October 6, 1994) and programming costs.

* Requires that complaints challenging the reasonableness of a rate for a cable programming service tier in effect on June 21, 1993 be filed by December 20, 1993.

* Establishes a certification process for franchising authorities to become certified to regulate basic rates, which requires certification by registered mail (return receipt requested) or hand-delivery (date stamped copy obtained), and service of such certification on the cable operator on or before the day it is filed with the Commission. The certification becomes effective 30 days after it is filed unless it is disapproved by the Commission. …

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