Form Not Only Outdated, But Burdensome On Smaller Cable Operators
PITTSBURGH, February 15, 2018 – The Federal Communications Commission would take a big step in helping smaller cable operators by eliminating Form 325, an obsolete, decades-old approach to data collection that has not only become outdated, but is inappropriately burdensome on some of the small players in the pay-TV industry, according to the American Cable Association.
“Although the ACA appreciates the FCC’s interest in understanding industry trends, the agency’s continued collection of data from Form 325 is wasteful and counterproductive,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “There is widespread consensus that Form 325 should be eliminated, with no immediate pushback from any parties thus far.”
In comments filed with the FCC, ACA said the reason for this consensus is clear. Form 325 has outlived its usefulness because, as FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly explained, “[a]ll of [the information collected via Form 325] is publicly available from a host of alternative sources, including SNL Kagan, Nielson, and Warren Communications; it does not reflect today’s competitive video marketplace; it does not apply to cable competitors; and it does not serve an actual purpose.”
Form 325 was created in 1965, a time when the FCC was trying to establish a factual predicate on whether to bring the nascent cable TV industry within its regulatory ambit. A close look at the information collected shows that much of it no longer serves any regulatory purpose, and indeed has not been used by the FCC in many years. The rest can be found from alternative sources (including other regulatory filings), or can be sought as needed on an ad hoc basis.
In terms of compliance burdens, the process of collecting and reporting the information required on the form is time consuming, and small cable operators generally spend roughly three to five times the number of man-hours that the FCC has estimated the form would require – time that would be much better spent on ensuring that customers receive the best service possible. The burden of the Form 325 requirement is substantial, and the FCC should take it into consideration when weighing whether to eliminate the form.
Given the undue regulatory burden that the filing requirement imposes on small operators with limited resources, ACA said that if the FCC does retain Form 325 in any form, it should exempt entirely systems with fewer than 20,000 subscribers that are not affiliated with large MVPDs.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit https://acaconnects.org/