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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Consumers confused concerning cable TV law, FCC attorney says

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Cable Television has been in the news again recently concerning reports of a legal right allowing cable customers to purchase cable channels a la carte.

The Brazil Times contacted Margo Davenport, a Federal Communication Commission attorney with the Media Bureau. Davenport said news reports stating that cable companies have to provide a la carte service is not correct. The exceptions are those companies that offered a la carte channels before 1992.

According to Davenport, the 1992 Cable TV Act had a section that may be the source of the confusion.

"The 'Tier Buy Through Prohibition' section of the Act essentially says that if a cable company offers channels on an a la carte basis, those channels must be available to basic only customers," Davenport said.

In 1992 when the Cable Act was passed, some cable companies, for technical or other reasons could not supply a la carte channels to basic only customers. So they were given a 10-year grace period to meet standards. That grace period has expired.

"There are very few cable companies who offer a la carte service," said Davenport. "It is only those few companies that are affected by the expiration of the 'Tier Buy Through Prohibition' clause in the Cable TV Act. If those companies offered a la carte channels previously, they must now offer them to basic only customers."

Davenport said she does not know how the incorrect information started circulating but she has received numerous calls concerning the misconception.

Brazil's Charter Communications representative, Todd Brackman, said he was not aware of any impact from the Cable TV Act.

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