New CableCARD Rules In Effect—Operators Must Provide Customers Additional Rate Information, Offer Self-Installation, and Provide Certain “Bring Your Own Box” Discounts


As we discussed in our earlier advisory here, last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted additional obligations for cable operators related to their support for customer use of retail CableCARD devices. The effective date of some of these new rules had been deferred pending approval by the Office of Management and Budget. That approval has now occurred and additional rules described below became effective Aug. 8, 2011. On that date, the FCC Enforcement Bureau issued an Enforcement Advisory advising cable operators that it will “strictly enforce” the new rules.

The newly-effective rules include:

• Operators that currently permit self-installation of any equipment must proactively offer new CableCARD customers the option to self-install their CableCARDs in most devices; operators that do not permit equipment self-installs must allow self-installation of CableCARDs by Nov. 1, 2011;

• Operators that offer any set-top boxes included in the base price of a service bundle or promotion must offer a credit to customers that use retail CableCARD devices and not take the set-top box from the operator; and

• Operators must provide conspicuous notice to customers in the annual notice and in the operator’s website or billing inserts of the rate they charge for CableCARDs in retail devices and those included in leased set-top boxes, and also the details of the “bring your own box” credit described above.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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