Here are highlights of the cable rereg bill:

  • The FCC must determine “reasonable” rates for “basic” service — public, educational and government cable channels and cable-delivered local affils of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS. The FCC could step in if charges for extra programming become exorbitant.

  • The FCC must ensure reasonable prices for installation and equipment such as remote control devices and converter boxes.

  • Cable companies must not charge for services or equipment not explicitly requested by a customer.

  • The FCC must set service standards to protect against chronic outages and guarantee that customers get quick telephone response to questions about billing , refunds and service. Communities could set additional standards.

  • After a maximum of 10 years, basic cable subscribers would be allowed to purchase premium channels, such as HBO and Showtime, without subscribing to an expanded tier of service first.

  • Communities could not block TV systems competing with a local cable franchise.

  • Cable programming must be made available to competitors.

  • Cable companies must negotiate with local broadcast stations before carrying their signals but cannot refuse to carry the signals.

  • The FCC must limit the number of subscribers a single cable company can have nationwide and the number of channels on each system that can be programmed by companies in which the operator has a financial interest.

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