Annual Reporting Is Appropriate Streamlining Faithful To Goals Of The Law
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, September 25, 2018 – The American Cable Association is urging the Federal Communications Commission to modify its children’s television recordkeeping requirements in a manner that would reduce reporting burdens on smaller cable operators and would not in any way compromise the important substantive limits on commercial matter aired during children’s programming hours.
“ACA encourages the FCC to adopt its own proposal to permit cable operators to place in their online public inspection files records demonstrating compliance with the limits on commercial matter in children’s programming once a year, rather than on a quarterly basis. Such a step would in no way impact the underlying substance of the limits on commercial matter in children’s programming nor would it increase the risk that children will be exposed to harmful material,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
ACA’s set forth its views in comments filed with the FCC on Monday in connection with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to Children’s Television Programming and the agency’s ongoing effort to modernize media ownership regulations.
FCC rules require cable operators to post in their online public inspection files either a list of the number of commercial minutes per hour aired during identified children’s programs, or certified documentation that each programming network carried by the operator, as a standard practice, formats and airs identified children’s programs within limits established by the Children’s Television Act of 1990.
ACA said the FCC should move to an annual reporting framework because collecting the required documentation from programming networks is onerous. ACA members carry dozens, if not hundreds, of individual networks operated by dozens of unique programming groups.
Cable operators are dependent on these programmers to provide the necessary documentation, which numbers well over one hundred individual files in total, for the operators to meet their regulatory obligations. An employee of an ACA member who is responsible for collecting programmer certificates said in a declaration attached to ACA’s comments that programmers need to be prodded to provide their documents and often don’t make them available until a couple of days before they must be posted. Therefore, the ACA member company must spend many hours each quarter tracking down, collecting, and processing these certifications.
ACA said the FCC could also be helpful by extending the deadline for cable operators to post the necessary documents to 45 days after the end of the quarter during which the programming aired. This would make it less burdensome for cable operators to collect certifications from programmers that take at least a week or more to post their certifications on their websites.
ACA also said the FCC should make clear that the Media Bureau will not adopt an official Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture against any small or medium-sized cable operator for violating the children’s programming recordkeeping requirement if the operator has made a good-faith effort to collect and post to their online file all necessary programmer certificates and program lists by the FCC’s deadline. ACA encouraged the FCC to direct the Bureau to conduct any inquiry undertaken to make this determination in a manner that is intended to be minimally burdensome.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s 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/