[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 195 (Tuesday, October 9, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61351-61375]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24641]



[[Page 61351]]

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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 76

[MB Docket No. 12-217; FCC 12-86]


Cable Television Technical and Operational Requirements

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
proposes to update technical and operational rules related to cable 
television systems and other multichannel video programming 
distributors that operate coaxial cable systems. The Commission seeks 
comments on rules that would update its minimum signal quality 
standards and signal leakage detection and monitoring for digital 
transmission. Additionally, the Commission proposes numerous 
corrections and updates to its to its cable television technical rules.

DATES: Comments are due on or before December 10, 2012; reply comments 
are due on or before January 7, 2013. Written PRA comments on the 
proposed information collection requirements contained herein must be 
submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and 
other interested parties on or before December 10, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket No. 12-217 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS) Web Site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Follow 
the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any 
comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection 
requirements contained herein should be submitted to the Federal 
Communications Commission via email to PRA@fcc.gov and to Nicholas A. 
Fraser, Office of Management and Budget, via email to Nicholas_A._Fraser@omb.eop.gov or via fax at 202-395-5167. For detailed 
instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the 
rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this 
document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Jeffrey Neumann, Jeffrey.Neumann@fcc.gov, of the 
Engineering Division, Media Bureau, (202) 418-7000. For additional 
information concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information 
collection requirements contained in this document, send an email to 
PRA@fcc.gov or contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 12-217, adopted and released on August 3, 
2012. The full text is available for public inspection and copying 
during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal 
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., CY-A257, Washington, DC 
20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be available electronically in 
ASCII, Word 97, and/or Adobe Acrobat. The complete text may be 
purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 445 12th Street SW., 
Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. Alternative formats are available 
for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, 
audio format), by sending an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or calling the 
Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 
(voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).
    This document contains proposed information collection 
requirements. As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork 
burden and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission invites the 
general public and other Federal agencies to comment on the following 
information collection(s). Public and agency comments are due December 
10, 2012.
    Comments should address: (a) Whether the proposed collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) 
ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology. In 
addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, 
Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment 
on how we might ``further reduce the information collection burden for 
small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.''
    To view or obtain a copy of this information collection request 
(ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to this OMB/GSA Web page:  http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain, (2) look for the section of the Web 
page called ``Currently Under Review,'' (3) click on the downward-
pointing arrow in the ``Select Agency'' box below the ``Currently Under 
Review'' heading, (4) select ``Federal Communications Commission'' from 
the list of agencies presented in the ``Select Agency'' box, (5) click 
the ``Submit'' button to the right of the ``Select Agency'' box, and 
(6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently under review appears, look for 
the OMB control number of this ICR as shown in the Supplementary 
Information section below (or its title if there is no OMB control 
number) and then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC 
submission to OMB will be displayed.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0289.
    Title: Section 76.601 Performance Tests, Section 76.1704 Proof of 
Performance Test Data, Section 76.1705 Performance Tests (Channels 
Delivered), 76.1717 Compliance with Technical Standards
    Form Number: Not applicable.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; State, local or 
tribal government.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 5,150 respondents; 7,705 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 0.5 to 70 hours.
    Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement; Semi-annually and 
Triennial reporting requirements; Third party disclosure requirement.
    Obligation To Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 
47 U.S.C. 624(e).
    Total Annual Burden: 178,697 hours.

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    Total Annual Costs: None.
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this collection of information.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is seeking approval for this revised 
proposed information collection from the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). On August 3, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, In the Matter of Cable Television Technical and 
Operational Requirements, MB Docket No. 12-217; FCC 12-86. This 
rulemaking proposes to revise the information collection requirements 
that support the Commission's cable television proof-of-performance 
rules that would be codified at 47 CFR 76.601, as required by the 1992 
Cable Act at 47 U.S.C. 624(e). Currently, the Commission's rules are 
designed for analog transmission; the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
proposes creation of equivalent, digital rules. In recent years, 
operators transitioning away from analog cable technology have no 
longer been able to perform proof-of-performance testing on those 
systems or portions of systems. By creating equivalent, digital rules, 
the NPRM proposes to once again require the majority of the cable 
industry to meet standards.
    The proposed information collection requirements for this 
collection are as follows:
    47 CFR 76.601(b) requires the operator of each cable television 
system shall conduct complete performance tests of that system at least 
twice each calendar year (at intervals not to exceed seven months), 
unless otherwise noted below. The performance tests shall be directed 
at determining the extent to which the system complies with all the 
technical standards set forth in Sec.  76.605 and shall be as follows:
    (1) For cable television systems with 1,000 or more subscribers but 
with 12,500 or fewer subscribers, proof-of-performance tests conducted 
pursuant to this section shall include measurements taken at six (6) 
widely separated points. However, within each cable system, one 
additional test point shall be added for every additional 12,500 
subscribers or fraction thereof (e.g., 7 test points if 12,501 to 
25,000 subscribers; 8 test points if 25,001 to 37,500 subscribers, 
etc.). In addition, for technically integrated portions of cable 
systems that are not mechanically continuous (e.g., employing microwave 
connections), at least one test point will be required for each portion 
of the cable system served by a technically integrated hub. The proof-
of-performance test points chosen shall be balanced to represent all 
geographic areas served by the cable system and should include at least 
one test point in each local franchise area. At least one-third of the 
test points shall be representative of subscriber terminals most 
distant from the system input and from each microwave receiver (if 
microwave transmissions are employed), in terms of cable length. The 
measurements may be taken at convenient monitoring points in the cable 
network: provided, that data shall be included to relate the measured 
performance of the system as would be viewed from a nearby subscriber 
terminal. An identification of the instruments, including the makes, 
model numbers, and the most recent date of calibration, a description 
of the procedures utilized, and a statement of the qualifications of 
the person performing the tests shall also be included.
    (2) Proof-of-performance tests to determine the extent to which a 
cable television system complies with the standards set forth in Sec.  
76.605(b)(3), (4), and (5) shall be made on each of the National 
Television System Committee (NTSC), or the analog television broadcast 
standard, or similar video channels of that system. Unless otherwise 
noted, proof-of-performance tests for all other standards in Sec.  
76.605 (b) shall be made on a minimum of five (5) channels for systems 
operating a total activated channel capacity of less than 550 MHz, and 
ten (10) channels for systems operating a total activated channel 
capacity of 550 MHz or greater. The channels selected for testing must 
be representative of all the channels within the cable television 
system.
    (i) The operator of each cable television system shall conduct 
semi-annual proof-of-performance tests of that system, to determine the 
extent to which the system complies with the technical standards set 
forth in Sec.  76.605(b)(4) as follows. The visual signal level on each 
channel shall be measured and recorded, along with the date and time of 
the measurement, once every six hours (at intervals of not less than 
five hours or no more than seven hours after the previous measurement), 
to include the warmest and the coldest times, during a 24-hour period 
in January or February and in July or August.
    (ii) The operator of each cable television system shall conduct 
triennial proof-of-performance tests of its system to determine the 
extent to which the system complies with the technical standards set 
forth in Sec.  76.605(b)(11).
    (3) Proof-of-performance tests to determine the extent to which a 
cable television system complies with the standards set forth in Sec.  
76.605(c)(1) shall be made on each of the Quadrature Amplitude 
Modulation (QAM), or the digital cable transmission standard, or 
similar video channels of that system. Unless otherwise as noted, 
proof-of-performance tests for all other standards in Sec.  76.605(c) 
shall be made on a minimum of five (5) channels for systems operating a 
total activated channel capacity of less than 550 MHz, and ten (10) 
channels for systems operating a total activated channel capacity of 
550 MHz or greater. The channels selected for testing must be 
representative of all the channels within the cable television system.
    (4) For cable televisions systems which operate both NTSC or 
similar and QAM of similar channels, proof-of-performance tests to 
determine the extent to which the cable televisions system complies 
with Sec.  76.605(b)(1), (2), (6)-(11) and 76.605(c)(1) shall be 
apportioned relative to the proportion of channels allocated to each 
transmission type, except that at no time shall less than two channels 
of a particular type be tested.
    47 CFR 76.605(e) requires that cable television systems 
distributing signals by methods other than 6 MHz NTSC or similar analog 
channels or 6 MHz QAM or similar channels on conventional coaxial or 
hybrid fiber-coaxial cable systems and which, because of their basic 
design, cannot comply with one or more of the technical standards set 
forth in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, may be permitted to 
operate upon Commission approval on a case-by-case basis. To obtain 
Commission approval, the operator must submit to the Commission its own 
proof-of-performance plan for ensuring subscribers receive good quality 
signals.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0331.
    Title: Aeronautical Frequency Notification, FCC Form 321.
    Form Number: FCC Form 321.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; Not-for-profit 
institutions.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 1,100 respondents; 1,100 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 0.67 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement; 
Recordkeeping requirement; One time reporting requirement.
    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory

[[Page 61353]]

authority for this collection of information is contained in 47 U.S.C. 
302 and 303.
    Total Annual Burden: 737 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: $66,000.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this collection of information.
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is seeking approval for this revised 
proposed information collection from the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). On August 3, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, In the Matter of Cable Television Technical and 
Operational Requirements, MB Docket No. 12-217; FCC 12-86. This 
rulemaking proposes to revise the information collection requirements 
that support the Commission's signal leakage rules that would be 
codified at 47 CFR 76.1804, as required by the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, as codified at 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 301, 303, 308, 309, 
and 621. With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Federal 
Communications Commission is proposing to extend the notification 
requirements to operators of digital systems at lower thresholds than 
those required under existing, analog rules. Currently, operators are 
required to file FCC Form 321 to notify the Commission when they 
operate at a power above a particular threshold. This threshold was 
designed to protect over-the-air users of the spectrum from 
interference from analog cable systems. The NPRM proposes to adopt a 
lower threshold for digital systems in order to provide over-the-air 
users of the spectrum with an equivalent level of protection.
    The NPRM proposes to create a digital equivalency for the 
Commission's analog rules. As a result, these rules are designed to 
capture the same respondents previously covered by the Commission's 
analog rules, but who have transitioned, or are transitioning, to 
digital operation. Further, this digital equivalency is designed to 
take an equivalent amount of time to fulfill. As a result, absent 
external factors, the hourly estimated burden will not change as a 
result of this NPRM (there will not be an increase or decrease to the 
hourly burden). However, widespread industry consolidation has resulted 
in fewer, though larger, respondents, resulting in a decrease in the 
total number of estimated responses.
    The NPRM does not propose that the information to be submitted on 
the form be changed. The proposed information collection requirements 
for this collection are as follows: Section 76.1804 states a 
Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD) shall notify the 
Commission before transmitting any carrier of other signal component 
with an average power level across a 30 kHz bandwidth in any 2.5 
millisecond time period equal to or greater than 10-5 watts 
at any point in the cable distribution system on any new frequency or 
frequencies in the aeronautical radio frequency bands (108-137 MHz, 
225-400 MHz). The notification shall be made on FCC Form 321 . Such 
notification shall include:
    (a) Legal name and local address of the MVPD;
    (b) The names and FCC identifiers (e.g., CA0001) of the system 
communities affected, for a cable system, and the name and FCC 
identifier (e.g., CAB901), for other MVPDs;
    (c) The names and telephone numbers of local system officials who 
are responsible for compliance with Sec. Sec.  76.610 through 76.616 
and Sec.  76.1803;
    (d) Carrier frequency, tolerance, and type of modulation of all 
carriers in the aeronautical bands at any location in the cable 
distribution system and the maximum of those average powers measured 
over a 2.5 kHz bandwidth as described in the introductory paragraph to 
this rule section;
    (e) The geographical coordinates (in NAD83) of a point near the 
center of the system, together with the distance (in kilometers) from 
the designated point to the most remote point of the plant, existing or 
planned, that defines a circle enclosing the entire plant;
    (f) Certification that the monitoring procedure used is in 
compliance with Sec.  76.614 or description of the routine monitoring 
procedure to be used; and
    (g) For MVPDs subject to Sec.  76.611, the cumulative signal 
leakage index derived under Sec.  76.611(a)(1) or the results of 
airspace measurements derived under Sec.  76.611(a)(2), including a 
description of the method by which compliance with the basic signal 
leakage criteria is achieved and the method of calibrating the 
measurement equipment.
    (h) Aeronautical Frequency Notifications, FCC Form 321, shall be 
personally signed either electronically or manually by the operator; by 
one of the partners, if the operator is a partnership; by an officer, 
if the operator is a corporation; by a member who is an officer, if the 
operator is an unincorporated association; or by any duly authorized 
employee of the operator.
    (i) Aeronautical Frequency Notifications, FCC Form 321, may be 
signed by the operator's attorney in case of the operator's physical 
disability or of his absence from the United States. The attorney shall 
in that event separately set forth the reasons why the FCC Form 321 was 
not signed by the operator. In addition, if any matter is stated on the 
basis of the attorney's belief only (rather than the attorney's 
knowledge), the attorney shall separately set forth the reasons for 
believing that such statements are true.
    (j) The FCC Registration Number (FRN).
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0332.
    Title: Section 76.614, Cable Television System Regular Monitoring, 
and Section 76.1706, Signal Leakage Logs and Repair Records.
    Form Number: Not applicable.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 5,000 respondents; 5,000 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 0.0167-0.5 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement; 
Recordkeeping requirement.
    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 
47 U.S.C. 302 and 303.
    Total Annual Burden: 3,502 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: None.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this collection of information.
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is seeking approval for this revised 
proposed information collection from the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). On August 3, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, In the Matter of Cable Television Technical and 
Operational Requirements, MB Docket No. 12-217; FCC 12-86. This 
rulemaking proposes to revise information collection 3060-0332 which 
supports the Commission's signal leakage monitoring, logging and repair 
rules that are codified at 47 CFR 76.614 and 76.1706, as required by 
the obligation to manage the radio frequency spectrum, as codified at 
47 U.S.C. 302 and 303. Currently, Sec.  76.614 requires cable operators 
to monitor for leaks which exceed a particular threshold. This 
threshold was designed to protect over-the-air users of the spectrum 
from interference from analog cable systems. The NPRM proposes to adopt 
a lower threshold for digital systems in order to provide over-the-air

[[Page 61354]]

users of the spectrum with an equivalent level of protection.
    The NPRM proposes to create a digital equivalency for the 
Commission's analog rules. As a result, these rules are designed to 
capture the same respondents previously covered by the Commission's 
analog rules, but who have transitioned, or are transitioning, to 
digital operation. Further, this digital equivalency is designed to 
take an equivalent amount of time to fulfill. As a result, absent 
external factors, the hourly estimated burden will not change as a 
result of this NPRM (there will not be an increase or decrease to the 
hourly burden). However, widespread industry consolidation has resulted 
in fewer, though larger, respondents, resulting in a decrease in the 
total number of estimated responses.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0433.
    Title: Basic Signal Leakage Performance Report, FCC Form 320.
    Form Number: FCC Form 320.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 5,550 respondents; 5,550 
responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 20 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement; 
Recordkeeping requirement; Annual reporting requirement.
    Obligation To Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in 
47 U.S.C. 302 and 303.
    Total Annual Burden: 111,000 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: None.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for 
confidentiality with this collection of information.
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is seeking approval for this revised 
proposed information collection from the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). On August 3, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 12-217; FCC 12-86. This rulemaking 
proposes to revise information collection 3060-0433 which supports the 
Commission's cumulative signal leakage calculation and reporting rules 
that would be codified at 47 CFR 76.611 and 76.1803, as required by the 
obligation to manage the radio frequency spectrum, as codified at 47 
U.S.C. 302 and 303. With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the 
Federal Communications Commission is proposing that operators of 
digital cable systems calculate and report leakage at different 
thresholds than those required of analog systems. Currently, Sec.  
76.611 requires operators of coaxial-cable television systems to 
tabulate leaks above a certain threshold, and prohibits them from 
operating if the accumulated leaks exceed a particular number. These 
thresholds were designed to protect over-the-air users of the spectrum 
from interference from analog cable systems. The NPRM proposes to adopt 
a lower thresholds for digital systems in order to provide over-the-air 
users of the spectrum with an equivalent level of protection.
    The NPRM does not propose that the form submitted pursuant to 
Section 76.1803 be changed. The NPRM proposes to create a digital 
equivalency for the Commission's analog rules. As a result, these rules 
are designed to capture the same respondents previously covered by the 
Commission's analog rules, but who have transitioned, or are 
transitioning, to digital operation. Further, this digital equivalency 
is designed to take an equivalent amount of time to fulfill. As a 
result, absent external factors, the hourly estimated burden will not 
change as a result of this NPRM (there will not be an increase or 
decrease to the hourly burden). However, widespread industry 
consolidation has resulted in fewer, though larger, respondents, 
resulting in a decrease in the total number of estimated responses.

Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

I. Introduction

    1. With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (``NPRM''), we propose 
to update our cable television technical rules to facilitate the cable 
industry's widespread transition from analog to digital transmission 
systems. Specifically, we seek comment on our proposals to modernize 
and modify the Commission's proof-of-performance rules \1\ and basic 
signal leakage performance criteria.\2\ In addition, we propose 
modifications throughout Part 76 to remove outdated language, correct 
citations, and make other minor or non-substantive updates. This NPRM 
promotes the goals of Executive Order 13579 and the Commission's plan 
adopted thereto, whereby the Commission analyzes rules that may be 
outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome and 
determines whether any such regulations should be modified, 
streamlined, expanded, or repealed.\3\ As set forth below, we seek to 
adopt clear and effective rules that reflect technological advancements 
in the cable television industry, and apply them to cable operators in 
a way that is minimally burdensome.
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    \1\ See 47 CFR 76.601, 605, 609, 1704, 1705, and 76.1713.
    \2\ See 47 CFR 76.610 through 620, 76.615(a)(12), 76.1706, 
76.1803 through 1804.
    \3\ See Executive Order No. 13579, section 2, 76 FR 41587 (July 
11, 2011); Final Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Rules, 
Public Notice, 2012 WL 1851335 (rel. May 18, 2012) (also available 
at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0521/DOC-314166A1.doc).
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II. Background

    2. The cable television industry is rapidly transitioning to 
digital service. The vast majority of cable system operators offer 
digital service,\4\ and several cable system operators have already 
migrated to ``all-digital'' service.\5\ Today, more than 80 percent of 
cable customers subscribe to some level of digital service, and that 
percentage is expected to increase to 84 percent by the end of this 
year.\6\ Cable television operators' transition to more efficient 
digital technology has freed up their limited bandwidth so they can 
offer new and improved products and services, such as high-definition 
(``HD'') video programming, high-speed Internet access, and digital 
voice services.\7\ For this reason, we expect most cable

[[Page 61355]]

operators will eventually transition to all-digital systems.\8\ 
Accordingly, in this NPRM, we propose revisions and updates to our 
technical standards that would apply to the operation of ``all-
digital'' and ``hybrid'' cable systems.
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    \4\ While digital service has become the most prevalent cable 
service, most cable systems that offer digital service still 
maintain some analog channel offerings. These cable systems are 
called ``hybrid'' systems.
    \5\ We note, for example, that BendBroadband and RCN have 
completed their transition to all-digital service, and Comcast and 
Cablevision are rapidly transitioning to all-digital service. See 
Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast Signals: Amendment to Part 
76 of the Commission's Rules, Fifth Report and Order, FCC 12-59, 77 
FR 36178 at 36183, para. 13, n.58, June 18, 2012 (``Viewability 
Sunset Order''). Comcast expects to have completed transitioning to 
all-digital service in 50% of its footprint by the end of 2012. See 
Comcast Comments in MB Docket No. 11-169 at 4.
    \6\ See SNL Kagan, ``Video growth enjoys seasonal lift in Q1; 
service providers notch sub gains,'' (May 16, 2012) (``More than 80% 
of basic subs are now digital.''); SNL Kagan, ``SNL Kagan's 10-Year 
Cable TV Projections,'' (Jul. 28, 2011). SNL Kagan projects that the 
percentage of cable subscribers subscribing to digital cable service 
will reach about 84 percent by year-end 2012, 88 percent by year-end 
2013, 91 percent by year-end 2014, and 93 percent by year-end 2015. 
Id. See also NCTA's statistics, available at http://www.ncta.com/statistics.aspx (last visited June 9, 2012) (indicating an 80.2% 
digital penetration rate (the percentage of total cable video 
customers that subscribe to a digital tier of cable service)).
    \7\ See, e.g., Viewability Sunset Order, 77 FR at 36185, para. 
16. See also NCTA News Release, ``Cable's Digital Transformation 
Providing Consumers with Advanced Technology, Lower Prices and 
Enhanced Competition,'' (dated Jul. 29, 2009), available at http://www.ncta.com/ReleaseType/MediaRelease/Cables-Digital-Transformation-Providing-Consumers-with-Advanced-Technology-Lower-Prices-and-Enhanced.aspx.
    \8\ See, e.g., Viewability Sunset Order, 77 FR at 36178, para. 
13. An all-digital cable system offers only digital service to its 
subscribers, while a hybrid cable system offers both analog and 
digital cable service to its subscribers.
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    3. We specifically examine several of our technical rules ranging 
from those that ensure cable customers receive a good quality signal to 
those that protect spectrum users from interference by cable systems. 
This examination is necessary because our cable television technical 
rules were largely established when analog technology was predominant 
and digital technology was rare. As a result, our current rules treat 
the use of digital technology as an exception rather than the rule. For 
example, our current proof-of-performance (or signal quality) rules 
permit cable operators that use ``non-conventional'' technologies 
(i.e., non-analog) to file individual waivers in which the Commission 
might substitute alternative technical standards to ensure a good 
quality signal.\9\ The Commission has received several such petitions 
based on cable operators transitioning to all-digital operation.\10\ 
Instead of addressing these issues on a case-by-case basis, however, we 
believe that it is necessary to establish clear and generally 
applicable technical rules governing the signal quality of digital 
channels. In the cumulative signal leakage context, our existing rules 
require multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) operating 
coaxial cable systems to protect certain aeronautical frequencies from 
interference by analog signals, but provide no guidance about how to 
provide aeronautical protection from their digital signals. 
Additionally, we address numerous technical rules that have become 
outdated as a result of external factors. By addressing the gaps in our 
rules arising from these industry changes, we intend to provide 
operators with greater certainty regarding the standards that must be 
met in order to establish a good quality signal. In addition, updating 
our rules will help protect aeronautical distress and safety 
frequencies from interference and, at the same time, allow operators to 
utilize their spectrum more efficiently.
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    \9\ 47 CFR 76.605(b).
    \10\ See, e.g., RCN Corporation Petition for Special Relief, 
CSR-8166 and CSR-8301-Z (2010), Bend Cable Communications, LLC, 
Petition for Special Relief, CSR-8294-Z (2010), Petition of the City 
of Burlington, VT, D/B/A Burlington Telecom, for Relief from Proof 
of Performance Testing, CSR-8273-Z (2009), Massillon Cable TV, Inc. 
and Clear Picture, Inc., Petition for Special Relief, CSR-8274-Z 
(2010), Jackson Energy Authority Petition for Special Relief, CSR-
6936-Z (2005).
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    4. Proof-of-Performance. The Commission has maintained technical 
standards since 1972 to govern the signal quality cable television 
systems deliver to consumers.\11\ Our rules focus on the electrical 
characteristics of analog television signals and set thresholds for 
numerous aspects of the signals when measured at subscribers' terminals 
to ensure that subscribers receive good quality cable signals.\12\ 
These standards, plus the requirement that operators test their systems 
and maintain the results of these tests in their public files, are 
collectively called ``proof-of-performance'' rules. The Cable 
Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 added 
section 624(e) of the Communications Act to establish a statutory 
mandate for cable TV signal quality standards.\13\ The statute requires 
the Commission to ``update such standards periodically to reflect 
improvements in technology.'' \14\ Since 1992, the Commission has 
adopted slight modifications to these rules,\15\ but the underlying 
assumption of the rules, analog transmission technology, remains 
unchanged.
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    \11\ See Amendment of Part 74, Subpart K, of the Commission's 
Rules and Regulations Relative to Community Antenna Television 
Systems, Report and Order, 37 FR 3252, Feb. 12, 1972.
    \12\ Specific signal characteristics that the rules address 
include aural carrier center frequency location and relative signal 
level; visual signal carrier signal level, amplitude characteristics 
of each subcarrier, and signal level to noise ratio; terminal 
isolation, hum modulation, and color carrier signal characteristics. 
See 47 CFR 76.605; Cable Television Technical and Operational 
Requirements, Report and Order, FCC 92-61, 57 FR 11000, April 1, 
1992 (``1992 Order''), aff'd in part and modified in part, 
Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 92-508, 57 FR 61009, Dec. 23, 1992 
(``1992 Reconsideration Order'').
    \13\ 47 U.S.C. 544(e) (requiring the establishment of ``minimum 
technical standards relating to cable systems' technical operation 
and signal quality'').
    \14\ Id.
    \15\ See, e.g., Metric Conversion of Parts 1, 2, 18, 21, 22, 23, 
25, 36, 61, 6368, 69, 73, 74, 76, 78, 80, 87, 90, and 94 of the 
Commission's Rules, Order, 58 FR 44952, Aug. 25, 1993 (converting 
the Commission's rules to metric); Implementation of Section 17 of 
the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 
1992; Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics 
Equipment, First Report and Order, 59 FR 25339, May 16, 1994 
(requiring cable systems to adopt the EIA IS-132 standard channel 
plan); Amendment of Part 76 of the Commission's Rules to Extend 
Interference Protection to the Marine and Aeronautical Distress and 
Safety Frequency 406.25 MHz, Report and Order, 69 FR 57862, Sept. 
28, 2004 (``406 MHz Order'') (requiring cable systems to adopt the 
CEA-542-B channel plan and removing various expired clauses).
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    5. When the Commission adopted the current technical standards in 
1992, it declined to extend the standards to the then-nascent practice 
of delivering cable television using digital signals.\16\ The 
Commission explained that technical standards for ``digital 
transmission techniques * * * may be vastly different than those for 
analog NTSC signals,'' but that it ``retain[s] authority * * * to 
address this issue at a later time should the adoption of technical 
standards * * * appear necessary or desirable.'' \17\ Since the analog 
rules were adopted in 1992, an increasing number of cable television 
systems have adopted digital delivery technologies. The majority of 
digital signals today are being delivered digitally via quadrature 
amplitude modulation (``QAM'') over hybrid fiber-coax (``HFC'') cable 
plant.\18\ Non-QAM digital cable systems have also emerged, though in 
far smaller numbers than QAM/HFC systems, and primarily utilize 
Internet Protocol (``IP'') delivery over either fiber-optic cable or 
DSL-based transmission \19\ over twisted-pair copper wires. Most 
recently, QAM-based operators have begun trials of DOCSIS-based \20\ IP 
delivery of cable service over HFC cable plant.\21\ Therefore, in this 
NPRM, we propose to establish proof-of performance rules that 
specifically address these advances in digital technology.
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    \16\ See 1992 Order.
    \17\ Id. NTSC refers to the analog television system developed 
by the National Television System Committee and was the standard 
employed for analog broadcast television and analog cable television 
in the United States.
    \18\ Digital (QAM) transmission differs from analog (NTSC) 
transmission in two key ways. First, the digital carrier encodes 
multiple video and audio streams as well as associated meta-data as 
a single data stream which is parsed by the subscriber's equipment. 
Second, as a radio frequency signal, the QAM signal no longer 
contains the three distinct sub-carriers that make up an analog 
television signal, but instead appears in the spectrum in what is 
commonly referred to as a ``haystack.'' Therefore, concepts such as 
the aural carrier separation from the video carrier are simply no 
longer applicable as these carriers are no longer distinct radio 
frequency components. Further, even where a signal characteristic 
could be measured for both an analog and digital signal, such as 
signal to noise ratio, the level of performance required for a 
digital QAM signal to be received and properly decoded is not the 
same as the signal to noise ratio required for the visual carrier of 
an analog television signal. See Walter Ciciora, et al., Modern 
Cable Television Technology 148-151 (2nd Ed. 2004).
    \19\ See 1992 Order. ``DSL'' stands for Digital Subscriber Line 
and is the technology employed by many MVPDs that utilize telephone 
networks to deliver video signals. Video is typically provisioned 
over VDSL (Very-high-bitrate DSL), providing up to 52 Mbps 
downstream or ADSL2+ (Asynchronous DSL version 2+), providing up to 
24 Mbps downstream.
    \20\ DOCSIS is the Data Over Cable Service Interface 
Specification, and is the standard by which cable operators provide 
cable modem service to customers. See H. Newton, Newton's Telecom 
Dictionary 265, (20th ed. 2004).
    \21\ See Sean Portnoy, Comcast Testing out IPTV Service at MIT 
to Compete Better Against Online Video Rivals, ZDNet (May 26, 2011).

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[[Page 61356]]

    6. Cable Signal Leakage--Protection of Aeronautical Channels. In 
addition to the minimum technical standards for signal quality, the 
Commission maintains a comprehensive testing, reporting, and repair 
regime to address the issue of interference caused by unintentional 
emissions from MVPDs. Established in 1984 after the Commission convened 
an advisory committee on the issue, the signal leakage rules require 
MVPDs that operate coaxial cable plants (specifically, what are 
commonly referred to as ``cable systems'' as well as additional ``non-
cable'' \22\ systems) and use the designated aeronautical 
communications bands at 108 to 137 MHz and 225 to 400 MHz to notify the 
Commission prior to doing so and to begin a regimen of routine 
monitoring to identify and correct any instances of signal leakage. 
These rules were established prior to the current widespread deployment 
of digital cable technology by cable and non-cable operators, and must 
be updated to provide adequate protection to aeronautical frequencies. 
Specifically, with regard to the ``offset'' requirement for analog 
signals, the Commission must account for the inability of digital 
signals to be ``offset'' relative to aeronautical channels and the 
implications this has on the interference potential of the signals. In 
this NPRM, we propose adjustments to our various signal leakage 
thresholds and modify our procedures for systems utilizing digital 
transmission to provide adequate protection of the aeronautical 
channels.
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    \22\ ``Non-cable'' systems are those MVPDs that are exempted 
from the Commission's legal definition of a cable system, but that 
are subject to some the Commission's cable technical rules based on 
their technical characteristics. See 47 CFR 76.5(a). Examples of 
these systems include facilities that serve only to retransmit the 
television signals of one or more television broadcast stations 
(such as master antenna systems), facilities that serve subscribers 
without using any public right-of-way (such as private cable 
operations, hotels, motels, prisons, and so on), and ``open video 
systems'' that comply with Section 653 of the Communications Act. 
See 47 CFR 76.5(a)(1) through (5). These systems are required to 
comply with the Commission's aeronautical frequency notification and 
signal leakage rules where technically applicable.
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III. Discussion

    7. Below, we seek comment on proposed modifications to our cable 
television technical rules to specifically address the provision of 
digital cable service. The Commission especially seeks comment on the 
costs and benefits of the rule changes proposed below, along with data 
supporting the assessments. The Commission further welcomes comment on 
any other technical rules that may have become unworkable or 
ineffective as a result of the transition to digital, the 
diversification of transmission technologies now employed by the cable 
industry, or other developments in technology.\23\
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    \23\ See 47 CFR 76.601 through 640 (``Subpart K--Technical 
Standards'').
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A. Proof of Performance

    8. Our proof-of-performance rules require a cable operator to 
provide a good quality signal to its customers and enable the 
Commission to evaluate compliance with this requirement.\24\ These 
rules include the following: Section 76.601 (testing requirement), 
Sec.  76.605 (technical standards), Sec.  76.609 (methods and 
requirements for performing the tests), Sec. Sec.  76.1704 and 76.1705 
(recordkeeping requirements), and Sec.  76.1713 (process for resolving 
complaints regarding signal quality).\25\ In keeping with our statutory 
mandate to update our proof-of-performance rules to reflect 
improvements in technology,\26\ we seek comment on updating these rules 
as they apply to QAM digital systems and non-QAM digital systems. In 
addition, we consider testing and recordkeeping issues, such as how 
many points in a system must be tested, how many channels on a system 
must be tested, and certain ancillary issues.
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    \24\ We note that the Commission's proof-of-performance rules 
are used not just by the Commission, but also by local franchising 
authorities who frequently operate as the first line in addressing 
constituent complaints against a local cable operator. Local 
Franchising Authorities enter into agreements with cable operators 
(among other service providers in their communities), and establish 
the conditions under which cable operators may use public rights-of-
way and other community resources. As a result of this contractual 
relationship, cable operators may have obligations to local 
franchising authorities in addition to those required by the 
Commission. Further, while some franchising has transitioned to the 
state level, local franchising authorities typically retain control 
over their local public rights-of-way. See 1992 Order at 2023, para. 
5.
    \25\ See 47 CFR 76.601, 605, 609, 1704, 1705, and 76.1713. We 
also note that the Commission has placed certain technical 
performance requirements on digital cable operators with more than 
750 MHz of activated channel capacity as part of their required 
support for unidirectional cable products. See 47 CFR 
76.640(b)(1)(i) (requiring compliance with SCTE 40 2003: ``Digital 
Cable Network Interface Standard''). We draw on this precedent in 
our proposal regarding QAM-based digital cable proof-of-performance 
requirements.
    \26\ See 47 U.S.C. 544(e).
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    9. In this NPRM, we specifically address the issue of how to 
establish digital proof of performance standards that are similar in 
function to the analog proof of performance standards we adopted in the 
1992 Order.\27\ At the time of the 1992 Order, analog cable 
transmission was predominant and possessed uniform characteristics, 
which made adoption of technical standards relatively straightforward. 
As mentioned above, today, QAM transmission is the dominant form of 
digital cable transmission. Unlike analog cable transmission, however, 
QAM is not uniform and may appear in a variety of configurations such 
as 64 QAM, 256 QAM, and potentially 1024 QAM, each requiring different 
performance standards.\28\ Further, non-QAM digital systems using such 
technologies as VDSL, ADSL2+, or transmitting via fiber-optic cables, 
now make up an increasing percentage of digital systems. We are also 
confronted with the potential decoupling of the concept of signals of 
``good technical quality'' (i.e., a highly reliable signal) from the 
concept of signals of ``good visual quality.'' In analog transmission, 
operators would replicate the exact electrical signal provided by the 
programming provider and the primary factor impacting signal quality 
was the quality of the electrical transmission (i.e., a highly reliable 
signal provides good visual quality). In contrast, with digital 
transmission, operators will often re-compress the signal to relieve 
capacity constraints or support different devices.\29\ If the operator 
is too aggressive in this re-compression, or if the signal processing 
equipment in the head-end introduces errors, a viewer may perceive a 
poor quality of video even though the transmission is perfect. 
Accordingly, we seek comment on whether we should consider qualitative 
measures to assess consumer perceptions of video quality. We seek 
specific comment on the pros and cons of adopting subjective consumer 
perception measures as opposed to or in addition to adopting objective 
measurements for assessing signal quality. Overall, we seek to develop 
the optimal approach to ensure that digital cable subscribers receive 
good quality

[[Page 61357]]

signals, while imposing a minimal regulatory burden on cable operators, 
and we seek comment on the costs and benefits associated with our 
proposals.
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    \27\ See 47 CFR 76.601, 76.605, and 76.609. These standards 
measure the electrical characteristics of an analog cable signal on 
coaxial cable.
    \28\ Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, or QAM is a sophisticated 
modulation technique, using variations in signal amplitude and 
phase, that allows multiple bits to form a single ``symbol,'' which 
is then impressed on a single sine wave. ``Quadrature'' refers to 
the fact that four distinct amplitude levels are defined. 16 QAM 
creates a symbol of 4 bits through 16 distinct signal points, or 
variations in amplitude and phase (2 raised to the 4th power equals 
16). 64 QAM, by extension, conveys 6 bits through 64 distinct signal 
points (2 raised to the 6th power equals 64). 256 QAM conveys 8 bits 
per symbol, and 1024 QAM conveys 10. See H. Newton, Newton's Telecom 
Dictionary 674, (20th ed. 2004).
    \29\ We note that cable operators receive digital signals that 
are already compressed; therefore, any alteration to the signals is 
considered recompression.
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1. Standards for QAM-Based Digital Cable Systems
    10. We propose to adopt the standard established by the Society of 
Cable Telecommunications Engineers, the SCTE 40 Digital Cable Network 
Interface Standard, as the signal quality standard for QAM-based 
digital cable systems and, in addition, propose to require testing and 
documentation that demonstrates compliance with the metrics associated 
with this standard.\30\ We tentatively conclude that the relatively 
straightforward SCTE 40 standard provides the best source of the 
digital proof-of-performance metrics. This standard is currently 
incorporated into our rules supporting unidirectional digital cable 
televisions and products, and is thus already followed by a significant 
portion of QAM digital cable operators.\31\ In the unidirectional 
CableCARD proceeding, the Commission, consumer electronics industry, 
and cable industry determined that standardizing certain attributes of 
the network would be necessary for such products to be successful.\32\ 
The Commission noted that such digital standards were already supported 
by some systems, with widespread adoption forthcoming, and that such 
standards encapsulated the common performance metrics well.\33\ As a 
result, selection of SCTE 40 2003 was unopposed by any party.\34\ For 
these same reasons, we believe that selecting an existing industry-
developed standard and well-focused set of measurements for digital 
cable places little to no additional burden on cable operators yet will 
ensure that consumers receive good signal quality. The SCTE has 
subsequently updated the SCTE 40 standard and it has received the 
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval.\35\ Accordingly, 
we tentatively conclude that we should incorporate the current version 
of that standard, SCTE 40 2011, into our rules as minimum signal 
quality standards for QAM digital cable service. We seek comment on our 
proposal and tentative conclusions. We also seek comment on any 
alternative standards that could be used to ensure a good quality 
digital signal.
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    \30\ See Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers ANSI/SCTE 
40 2011: Digital Cable Network Interface Standard, available at 
http://www.scte.org/documents/pdf/standards/SCTE_40_2011.pdf 
(``SCTE 40 2011''). SCTE 40 2011 describes the basic technical 
operational characteristics for digital cable systems using QAM, 
including such characteristics as relative channel power, carrier-
to-noise ratios, and adjacent-channel characteristics.
    \31\ See 47 CFR 76.640(b)(1)(i). The rules apply to cable 
systems operating at 750 MHz or greater.
    \32\ See Implementation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications 
Act of 1996, Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices, Report 
and Order, FCC 03-225, 68 FR 66734, Nov. 28, 2003 (``CableCARD 
Order'') (incorporated for use by 47 CFR 76.640(b)(1)(i)). In the 
unidirectional CableCARD proceeding, the Commission incorporated 
SCTE 40 2003 into its rules. In Section III.D below, we propose to 
update our incorporation for Sec.  76.640 to the 2011 version of 
this standard as well, as these versions are substantively the same, 
and only minor updates to certain parameters, administrative 
clarifications, and ANSI certification have been changed.
    \33\ See CableCARD Order.
    \34\ Id.
    \35\ See ANSI/SCTE 40 2011 Digital Cable Network Interface 
Standard, American National Standards Institute, available at http:/
/webstore.ansi.org/RecordDetail.aspx?sku=ANSI/SCTE+40+2011.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    11. We continue to believe that testing and documentation is 
essential to ensuring compliance and permitting effective enforcement 
of our proof-of-performance rules. Therefore, in addition to adopting 
SCTE 40 2011 as the standard for digital proof-of-performance, we 
propose to require QAM-based cable operators to document the successful 
completion of proof-of performance testing to demonstrate compliance. 
SCTE 40 2011 contains tables with entries detailing the metrics for 
compliance. We tentatively conclude that operators should perform a 
test for each of the entries located on those tables dealing with the 
delivery of cable video signals, but not those dealing with upstream or 
downstream data performance.\36\ We seek comment on this tentative 
conclusion. Additionally, similar to the analog context, while 
operators are required to comply with the standard on every applicable 
channel, we only propose to require operators to test all channels and 
document their compliance with the standard's parameters that pertain 
to the relationships between channels, and to test and document a 
subset of channels for compliance with the standard's parameters that 
pertain to individual channel characteristics. Thus, we propose to 
require the Adjacent Channel Levels (SCTE 40 2011, Table 6) and Nominal 
Power Levels (SCTE 40 2011, Table 5) to be tested across every QAM 
channel on the system. Similarly, we propose that the channel-specific 
standards for normal video channels contained in the Forward 
Application Transport table (SCTE 40 2011, Table 4) \37\ be tested only 
on a subset of channels. We provide more specifics on the number of 
channels to be sampled, as well as other aspects of testing and 
recordkeeping, below. We seek comment from cable operators that have 
implemented periodic testing procedures based on the SCTE 40 standard 
regarding their experiences with implementing this metric and what 
procedures they have put into place to measure and ensure compliance 
with this standard.
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    \36\ We observe that these parameters primarily relate to two-
way services, such as data service and video-on-demand, which we do 
not propose including within the testing requirements. In SCTE 40, 
these parameters are contained in Table 2 and Table 3, the Forward 
and Reverse Data Channel (FDC and RDC) Tables. Table 1, the Digital 
Cable Network Frequency Bands, indicates the frequency bands in 
which various channels may operate, and while compliance with this 
provision is required, testing and documentation of compliance is 
not. See SCTE 40 2011 at Tables 1, 2, 3.
    \37\ SCTE 40 defines the Forward Application Transport (FAT) 
Channel as ``the data channel carried from the headend to the 
terminal device in a modulated channel at a rate of 26.97 or 38.81 
Mbps. MPEG-2 transport is used to multiplex video, audio, and data 
into the FAT channel. The FAT Channel is also considered the ``In-
band'' channel. The FAT channel is used for MPEG-2 compressed video 
and audio.'' See SCTE 40 2011 at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    12. We seek comment on whether to supplement, or otherwise modify, 
the SCTE 40 2011 standard for purposes of establishing our digital 
signal quality standard. In particular, we seek comment on whether we 
should adopt elements of the SCTE's recent Fourth Edition of its 
Measurement Recommended Practices for Cable Systems (SCTE Recommended 
Practice).\38\ The SCTE Recommended Practice provides a comprehensive 
and extensive set of best practices covering nearly every potential 
aspect of cable operation for both analog and digital cable operators. 
More specifically, the SCTE Recommended Practice provides guidance to 
cable system operators about how to comply with the SCTE 40 standard. 
We recognize that, given the scope of the SCTE Recommended Practice, it 
may be more than is necessary to ensure digital cable consumers receive 
good quality signals. Nevertheless, we seek comment on whether any 
particular parts of the SCTE Recommended Practice would be effective as 
an enhancement to the SCTE 40 2011. In addition, we seek comment on 
whether other metrics, such as the measurement of visual signal quality 
or the MPEG stream would be appropriate as an enhancement to the SCTE 
40 2011.
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    \38\ See Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, SCTE 
Measurement Recommended Practices for Cable Systems (4th ed., 2012) 
(``SCTE Measurement Recommended Practice'').
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2. Non-QAM Cable Systems and Qualitative Signal Quality
    13. As noted above, ready sources of widely-followed industry 
standards exist on which we can base our rules for

[[Page 61358]]

digital cable transmission via QAM on hybrid fiber-coax systems. In 
contrast, non-QAM systems such as the fiber optic, hybrid fiber/twisted 
pair, and the VDSL and ADSL2+ systems do not possess uniform 
characteristics. Accordingly, unlike for QAM systems, the SCTE 40 
standard is not relevant to non-QAM systems, nor do we have available 
equivalent industry standards or guidance for each particular new 
technology. Therefore, we seek comment on how to establish proof of 
performance standards for non-QAM systems that are functionally 
comparable to the proof of performance standards proposed above for QAM 
systems. Similarly, we seek comment on the testing and documentation 
that should be required to demonstrate compliance with performance 
standards for non-QAM systems. If we are not able to adopt a uniform 
proof-of-performance standard for non-QAM systems, we propose, as 
discussed below, to establish a case-by-case approach for evaluating 
non-QAM system signal quality.
    14. We seek comment on whether there are appropriate industry 
standards against which to determine signal quality in non-QAM systems. 
In the absence of any industry-developed standards, is it possible to 
formulate a uniform signal quality standard, or set of standards, that 
could apply to the various types of non-QAM systems? In the absence of 
a uniform standard for measuring the electrical signal characteristics 
for non-QAM systems, we seek comment on alternative means to 
objectively measure and evaluate whether a non-QAM digital cable system 
is providing a ``good quality signal.'' We also ask commenters to 
address whether objective methods exist to establish if ``good quality 
signals'' are reaching cable subscribers of non-QAM systems, either as 
a complement to, or in place of, regulating carrier signal quality, 
including: (1) An analysis of errors in the transmission of the 
compressed video stream, (2) a means by which to measure perceived 
visual signal quality, (3) a combination of the two, or (4) some 
alternative method. For example, we ask commenters to consider whether 
a standard regarding transmission errors would be useful in addressing 
audio-related problems, such as a lack of synchronization of the audio 
and video signal, or closed captioning related problems, such as poor 
or missing caption data. In this regard, we note that the vast majority 
of cable systems encode video using MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 AVC.\39\ We seek 
comment on the potential of establishing standards based on the 
transmission of the compressed video stream and whether the technical 
qualities of the decoded signal, such as bit errors in the MPEG stream, 
are a possible substitute for or supplement to regulating carrier 
signal quality. With regard to perceived visual signal quality, we note 
the problem of ``pixelization'' or ``tearing'' \40\ of a video image 
that may occur as a result of bandwidth constraints or other non-
transmission related network conditions. We seek comment on the 
suitability of testing visual signal quality, the availability of 
objective criteria, the availability of equipment, and the desirability 
of using metrics regarding perceived visual signal quality. Are there 
any entities currently analyzing and developing standards for visual 
signal quality? If so, please describe in detail. Finally, we seek 
comment on whether instead of, or in addition to, adopting objective 
technical requirements, there are other approaches we should consider 
to establish standards concerning non-QAM cable operators' signal 
quality.
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    \39\ MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC are standards for digitally encoding 
and compressing video and other signals developed by the Motion 
Picture Experts Group. MPEG-2 is used by terrestrial broadcast 
television stations and most QAM-based cable operators with respect 
to their traditional linear services; MPEG-4 is used by most IPTV 
operators.
    \40\ ``Pixelization'' and ``tearing'' describe the appearance to 
viewers of an underlying loss of signal. Pixelization appears as 
large blocks of the video image that either turn black or cease 
updating. Tearing appears as the moving portion of an image 
continues its motion over a background which has ceased updating, 
causing part of the image to appear separated from that immediately 
adjacent to it.
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    15. To the extent that any type of uniform objective measurement is 
not possible to encompass the variety of existing or future non-QAM 
system platforms, we propose to establish a case-by-case approach 
whereby the non-QAM digital cable systems would demonstrate that they 
are providing a ``good quality signal'' to their customers by 
submitting a plan for Commission approval. As proposed for QAM systems, 
the non-QAM system proof-of-performance plan must include a testing and 
documentation component. This case-by-case approach would replace the 
existing case-by-case approach for cable systems using ``non-
conventional'' techniques.\41\ We propose to require each non-QAM 
digital cable system to submit its own proof-of-performance plan for 
ensuring subscribers receive good quality signals.\42\ We envision 
these plans would contain a set of parameters, whether electrical 
signal characteristics, MPEG stream characteristics or other metrics to 
demonstrate signal quality.\43\ We seek comment on whether there are 
minimum components that each performance plan should contain. We seek 
to establish objective criteria that the Commission would be able to 
readily evaluate and that the public could comment upon. For example, 
should each plan contain an explanation of the technical parameters of 
the equipment employed, nominal error rates, or other common criteria? 
Are there objective criteria that are common across all non-QAM systems 
and that can be used to evaluate proof-of-performance submissions? We 
would expect that each non-QAM system will have their own internal 
signal quality guidelines and may wish to use these guidelines as the 
basis for their proof-of-performance plan. We seek comment on how the 
Commission should evaluate the adequacy of performance plan 
submissions. Should we require operators to send a copy of their plan 
to local franchise authorities (LFAs) with jurisdiction over the system 
and to provide a mechanism for LFAs to comment on such plans?
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    \41\ Currently, the Commission's rules provide that cable 
systems using non-conventional techniques (today, this applies to 
any non-analog cable service) may be granted relief from the 
technical standards subject to assurances that subscribers to such 
systems will receive an equivalent level of ``good quality 
service.'' See 47 CFR 76.605(b).
    \42\ We propose that these showings be made electronically, 
through the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System, through a 
similar process to that implemented for other Cable Special Relief 
(CSR) petitions. See Amendment of Certain of the Commission's Part 1 
Rules of Practice and Procedure and Part 0 Rules of Commission 
Organization, Report and Order, FCC 11-16, 76 FR 24383, May 2, 2011.
    \43\ This submission should also contain an explanation of the 
parameters, including how they are measured and documented, and the 
means by which these parameters are evaluated by system engineers to 
ensure good signal quality.
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3. Testing and Recordkeeping
    16. In addition to proposing to adopt a new standard for QAM-based 
digital cable systems and seeking comment on how to determine signal 
quality on non-QAM systems, we also propose some minor updates to our 
current proof of performance testing and recordkeeping rules. Some of 
these proposed changes would only affect digital systems and others 
would also apply to analog systems.
a. Number of Channels Tested
    17. We propose to simplify the formula by which both analog and QAM 
digital operators determine how many channels must be tested to ensure 
compliance with the proof-of-

[[Page 61359]]

performance rules regarding channel-specific characteristics. 
Currently, a formula exists for very small systems (systems with less 
than 300 MHz of activated spectrum) that requires a minimum of four 
channels and then adds channels as various additional blocks of 
spectrum are activated.\44\ We continue to believe that testing every 
channel is unnecessary, except for those limited tests regarding 
adjacent channel power limits and nominal power levels, and that 
testing the channel-specific characteristics is particularly burdensome 
for small systems with more limited resources. Therefore, we propose to 
revise the testing formula to reflect a more simplified approach: a 
cable system with a total activated channel capacity up to 550 MHz will 
be required to test 5 channels, and any system with a total activated 
channel capacity of 550 MHz or greater must test 10 channels. We 
believe that this proposal simplifies compliance for all operators and 
will continue to ensure that a sufficient representative sample of 
channels is tested to accurately reflect the experience consumers 
receive. We seek comment on this proposal.
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    \44\ 47 CFR 76.601(b)(2). Currently, the Commission uses a 
formula which requires every system to test a minimum of 4 channels 
for the first 100 MHz, plus one channel for each additional 100 MHz 
of cable system upper frequency limit (or fraction thereof). For 
example, a 750 MHz system is required to test a total of 11 channels 
(4 channels for the first 100 MHz plus 7 additional channels for 
each additional 100 MHz block of spectrum).
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    18. Although cable operators are increasingly transitioning to all-
digital systems, most cable systems still deliver both analog and 
digital channels.\45\ Therefore, where only a sampling of channels is 
called for, we propose to require operators to test each transmission 
format in proportion to its presence on the system. We propose that 
systems that deliver both analog and digital channels would be required 
to divide their proof-of-performance obligation between analog and 
digital channels proportionally with the percentage of the system that 
is allocated, by MHz, to each type of transmission, except that in no 
circumstances would fewer than two channels of a particular type be 
tested.\46\ We seek comment on this proposal. We believe that there are 
no hybrid systems operating partially analog and partially non-QAM, or 
partially QAM and partially non-QAM. We seek comment on whether any 
such systems exist and, if so, how we should address this situation.
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    \45\ For example, we note that as of December 31, 2010, 
approximately 92 percent of cable subscribers were served by a 
hybrid analog-digital cable system. See Carriage of Digital 
Television Broadcast Signals: Amendment to Part 76 of the 
Commission's Rules, Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and 
Declaratory Order, FCC 12-18, 77 FR 9187, Feb. 16, 2012.
    \46\ For example, a 750 MHz system would be required to test 10 
channels under our proposal. Assuming this system maintains 36 
channels of analog transmission and 80 channels of digital, the 
percentage of the system allocated to analog would be 31%. 
Therefore, we would expect the system to test 3 analog channels 
against our analog standards, and 7 digital channels against our 
digital standards. However, should the system maintain fewer than 23 
analog channels (20% of its capacity by MHz), the operator would 
continue to be required to test 2 analog channels until the system 
transitions to all-digital operation.
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    19. Currently, our analog proof-of-performance rules only apply to 
each NTSC or similar downstream cable television channel.\47\ As we 
discuss above, we propose to require proof-of-performance testing on 
all QAM channels (or a subset, as appropriate),\48\ and seek comment on 
addressing non-QAM digital video channels. These comments should also 
address switched-digital channels to the extent they deliver video 
programming that is comparable to traditional, pre-scheduled video 
programming on linear channels. Traditionally, the Commission has 
excluded channels used for other purposes, such as video-on-demand and 
cable modem service.\49\ However, in some cases multiple services 
(e.g., both linear video and video-on-demand) may be combined in a 
single QAM channel. We seek comment on which QAM channels are 
appropriate to include in the testing requirements.
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    \47\ See 47 CFR 76.605(a).
    \48\ SCTE 40 2011 contains detailed specifications defining a 
``channel'' for purposes of meeting the technical standards, 
including that it be 6 MHz wide, operate in specific frequency 
bands, be comprised of QAM carriers, and comply with numerous other 
standards. See SCTE 40 2011 at 17.
    \49\ At the time, the Commission observed that standards were 
not available for the delivery of non-traditional services such as 
pay-per-view or data services, but that operators would have a 
``distinct incentive to fix'' any problems that occurred on these 
services. See 1992 Order.
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b. Number of Test Points
    20. Our current rules specify testing requirements for all cable 
television systems, regardless of whether they are analog or 
digital.\50\ Specifically, two times per year, a cable operator must 
measure the technical characteristics contained in Sec.  76.605 at 
specific points throughout its system.\51\ The ultimate number of 
specific test points within a system is determined by the number of 
subscribers to the system.\52\ Technological advancements, however, 
have resulted in less clear distinctions among physical components that 
make up a system or separate one system from another. This has resulted 
in the potential for subscribers to be allocable to more than one 
system. Additionally, the industry is increasingly moving toward 
consolidating headends to form regional clusters. For example, 
Verizon's fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) offering, FiOS, has largely done 
away with the notion of local headends, utilizing region-wide 
facilities instead.
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    \50\ 47 CFR 76.601(a) (``The operator of each cable television 
system shall be responsible for insuring that each such system is 
designed, installed, and operated in a manner that fully complies 
with the provisions of this subpart.''); see also 47 CFR 76.5(a) 
(defining a ``cable system or cable television system'').
    \51\ 47 CFR 76.605.
    \52\ See 47 CFR 76.601(b)(1). The rules also specify the number 
of test points. Six test points are required for all systems with 
1,000 to 12,500 subscribers. For systems with more than 12,500 
subscribers, an additional test point is added for each multiple of 
12,500 subscribers. Additionally, each portion of the system 
separated by a non-physical link, such as microwave, must be tested. 
The rules direct operators to separate the test points in a 
geographically representative manner.
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    21. We believe that the physical boundaries of a system--that is, 
the separation of one system from another--are not generally relevant 
to the purpose of proof-of-performance testing. Rather, the rules are 
subscriber focused, and so long as good quality signals are being 
delivered to subscribers, their specific origin need not be precisely 
defined. We propose, however, to modify the rules for the number of 
test points. While the Commission has preempted local franchising 
authorities from establishing their own standards,\53\ local franchise 
authorities (LFAs) retain control over their public rights of way and 
have a much closer relationship with their cable operators and cable 
customers than does the Commission. Therefore, we propose to require 
that at least one test point, representative of the type of service 
(taking into account system architecture, channel delivery, and other 
technical characteristics) received by customers within that local 
franchise area, be located within each LFA's jurisdiction. We seek 
comment on the appropriate course of action if the number of LFAs 
exceeds the number of test points required by the existing formula. For 
example, should additional test points be added to the operator's 
obligations to equal the total number of LFAs served by that system? We 
seek to ensure that as system consolidation and technological 
innovation lead to ever larger system footprints, that our rules 
maintain the necessary geographic diversity and, at the same time, 
ensure that subscribers across an operator's

[[Page 61360]]

system footprint receive good quality signals.
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    \53\ See Amendment of Part 76 of the Commission's Rules and 
Regulations Relative to the Advisability of Federal Preemption of 
Cable Television Technical Standards or the Imposition of a 
Moratorium on Nonfederal Standards, Report and Order, 39 FR 39050, 
Nov. 5, 1974.
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c. Recordkeeping
    22. We propose to adopt recordkeeping obligations on digital cable 
operators identical to those placed on analog cable operators. Section 
76.1704(a) of our rules provides that proof-of-performance test results 
shall be maintained on file at the operator's local business office for 
at least five years and shall be made available for inspection by the 
Commission or the local franchising authority, upon request.\54\ In 
addition, Sec.  76.1700(a) of our rules, broadly referred to as the 
public file obligations of a cable operator, provides that the operator 
of a cable system shall either provide this information to the public 
upon request or maintain a public inspection file containing this 
information, depending on the size of the system.\55\ While we believe 
that the current rule has been effective, we seek comment on what, if 
any, changes should be made to our recordkeeping rules. For example, we 
seek comment on whether the rules should be modified to make these 
records more available or to alter the length of time records are 
retained.
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    \54\ See 47 CFR 76.1704(a).
    \55\ The operator of a cable system with fewer than 1,000 
subscribers is exempt from these requirements. See 47 CFR 
76.1700(a). The operator of a cable system having 1,000 to 5,000 
subscribers must provide this information upon request. See id. The 
operator of a cable system having 5,000 or more subscribers must 
maintain this information in a public inspection file. See id.
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d. Other Issues
    23. We seek input regarding the extent to which a cable system's 
compliance with our technical standards depends on third parties. Are 
there factors outside of a cable system's control that could result in 
a degradation of signal quality? For example, to what extent does the 
signal quality received by cable subscribers depend on the reliability 
of networks controlled by third parties or on the programmer's original 
encoding of the material? Can a cable system contract with third 
parties to ensure compliance with our technical standards? What impact, 
if any, should a cable system's reliance on third parties have on our 
technical standards?
    24. We also seek comment on what role, if any, set-top boxes should 
play in the Commission's efforts to ensure consumers receive good 
quality signals.\56\ There appears to be some industry confusion 
regarding the proper role of set-top boxes in meeting a cable 
operator's proof-of-performance obligations.\57\ In all-digital systems 
where most or all televisions require a set-top box, is it desirable to 
establish a testing regime which utilizes the output at the operator's 
leased set-top boxes as the testing point to determine whether a good 
quality signal is being delivered to subscribers? If so, do standards 
exist for the connections consumer now generally use to connect digital 
cable set-top boxes to televisions, such as HDMI and component video 
cables? Further, how could we ensure that subscribers owning non-
operator-supplied set-top boxes or CableCARD-equipped televisions 
receive ``good quality signals?'' \58\
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    \56\ See 47 CFR 76.605, Note 3 (``The requirements of this 
section shall not apply to devices subject to the TV interface 
device rules under part 15 of this chapter''). 47 CFR 15.3(e) 
defines a ``cable system terminal device'' is a ``TV interface 
device that serves, as its primary function, to connect a cable 
system operated under part 76 of this chapter to a TV broadcast 
receiver or other subscriber premise equipment. * * * '' Generally, 
these are referred to as ``cable set-top boxes'' and are generally 
leased by customers from their MVPD, but may be purchased at retail 
as well. Rather than focusing on signal quality as determined by the 
proof-of-performance rules, the Part 15 rules ensure that boxes do 
not harm connected televisions or cause interference. See 47 CFR 
15.115.
    \57\ In the Matter of Pace Micro Technology PLC Petition for 
Special and Interim Relief, Order, 19 FCC Rcd 1945 (MB 2004).
    \58\ We note that in 2010 the Commission updated its rules 
regarding CableCARDs, largely with respect to customer support-
related issues, but also with respect to some technical rules. See 
Implementation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996: 
Commercial Availability of Navigation Devices, Compatibility Between 
Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics Equipment, Third Report and 
Order, FCC 10-181, 76 FR 44279, July 25, 2011.
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    25. Finally, we also propose to rationalize the numbering scheme in 
our rules to accommodate our proposed rule changes. Specifically, we 
propose to relocate the analog proof of performance rules in a new 
Sec.  76.605(b) and create Sec.  76.605(c) for digital rules.\59\ 
Section 76.605(a) will contain guidance for interpreting the rest of 
the section, and Sec.  76.605(d) will contain an updated general signal 
leakage provision previously located in Sec.  76.605(a)(12) that will 
apply both to analog and digital systems.\60\ We also propose to 
renumber Sec.  76.601, to consolidate the analog instructions under 
Sec.  76.601(b)(2) and the digital instructions under Sec.  
76.601(b)(3). We believe that these changes will make the rules easier 
to read and follow. Additionally, we propose to update the signal-to-
noise requirements of a new Sec.  76.605(b)(7), formerly Sec.  
76.605(a)(7),\61\ to reflect the completion of the transition to 
digital television broadcasting by amending any reference to Grade B 
Contour with a reference to the Noise-Limited Service Contour as the 
applicable, regulatory equivalent for digital broadcasting.\62\ 
Finally, we propose to renumber the current Sec.  76.605(b) to Sec.  
76.605(e), to be modified as detailed below. We seek comment on these 
proposals.
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    \59\ 47 CFR 76.605.
    \60\ We note that this general signal leakage requirement is 
separate from the more stringent signal leakage requirements 
pertaining to the aeronautical bands and discussed below. See 
Section III.B; 47 CFR 76.610, et al.
    \61\ 47 CFR 76.605(a)(7).
    \62\ While the Grade B contour defined an analog television 
station's service area, see 47 CFR 73.683(a), with the completion of 
the full power digital television transition on June 12, 2009, there 
are no longer any full power analog stations. Instead, as set forth 
in Sec.  73.622(e), a station's DTV service area is defined as the 
area within its noise-limited contour where its signal strength is 
predicted to exceed the noise-limited service level. See 47 CFR 
73.622(e). Accordingly, the Commission has treated a digital 
station's noise limited service contour (NLSC) as the functional 
equivalent of an analog station's Grade B contour. See, e.g., 
Implementation of Section 203 of the Satellite Television Extension 
and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA), Report and Order and Order on 
Reconsideration, 75 FR 72968, Nov. 29, 2010.
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B. Cumulative Signal Leakage

    26. MVPDs that operate coaxial cable plants (``coaxial cable 
systems'') use frequencies allocated for myriad over-the-air services 
within their system. Under ideal circumstances, those signals are 
confined within the cable system and do not cause interference with the 
over-the-air users of those frequencies. However, under certain 
circumstances, a coaxial cable plant can ``leak'' and interfere with 
over-the-air users of spectrum.\63\ The Commission began looking at the 
issue of coaxial cable signal leakage in the 1970's, and in 1977 
released a First Report and Order to address concerns that coaxial 
cable plants could leak electromagnetic radiation that could interfere 
with critical navigational and emergency frequencies.\64\ Specifically, 
the Commission was concerned with interference to the aeronautical 
radio frequency bands, located at 108 to 137 MHz and 225 to 400 MHz, 
and that interference from leaks dispersed throughout the cable plant 
would constructively combine to appear as a single, much larger leak to 
receivers passing overhead. At the time, demonstrated incidents of 
interference were rare.\65\ The order noted, however, that ``the major 
reason for formulating the rules * * * is not to solve an existing 
problem of crisis proportions.

[[Page 61361]]

Rather * * * [it is] because we expect that the near future is likely 
to bring more cable televisions systems, more extensive use of mid-band 
frequencies'' and as a consequence, greater potential for 
interference.\66\ While the First Report and Order established the 
basic framework for signal leakage that continues to be used today, the 
Commission at the time recognized the need for further analysis and 
commissioned a federal advisory committee for this purpose.\67\
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    \63\ For example, leakage can occur when outside cabling becomes 
frayed due to age, damage caused by animals, or breaks due to severe 
weather.
    \64\ Amendment of Part 76 of the Commission's Rules to Add 
Frequency Channeling Requirements and Restrictions and to Require 
Monitoring for Signal Leakage from Cable Television Systems, Report 
and Order, FCC 77-541, 42 FR 41284, Aug. 16, 1977 (``First Report 
and Order'').
    \65\ See First Report and Order.
    \66\ Id. at 823, para. 28.
    \67\ See Amendment of Part 76 of the Commission's Rules to Add 
Frequency Channeling Requirements and Restrictions and to Require 
Monitoring for Signal Leakage From Cable Television Systems, Further 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 80-126, 45 FR 19578, Mar. 26, 
1980 (``Subsequently, the Commission did appoint an Advisory 
Committee on Cable Signal Leakage and partially funded a research 
program in this area. The Advisory Committee provided suggestions 
and guidance throughout the research program, examined the results 
of the research, drew technical conclusions, and recommended a new 
regulatory approach to preventing interference based on those 
conclusions.'').
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    27. In the wake of the Final Report of the Advisory Committee on 
Cable Signal Leakage,\68\ the Commission adopted a Second Report and 
Order in 1984.\69\ The Second Report and Order implemented the advisory 
committee's recommendations and established the comprehensive signal 
testing regime currently in use.\70\ Importantly, the Second Report and 
Order affirmed the Commission's previous decision regarding the 
cumulative nature of leaks from cable systems and their potential for 
interference when aggregated by receivers in aircraft passing 
overhead.\71\ It also noted that reported cases of interference 
increased between the adoption of the First Report and Order in 1977 
and the Second Report and Order in 1984, lending credence to the First 
Report and Order's prediction that additional interference would appear 
as cable deployment continued.\72\
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    \68\ United States Advisory Committee on Cable Signal Leakage, 
Final report of the Advisory Committee on Cable Signal Leakage to 
the Chief, Cable Television Bureau, Federal Communications 
Commission (1979).
    \69\ Amendment to Part 76 of the Commission's Rules to Add 
Frequency Channeling Requirements and Restrictions and to Require 
Monitoring for Signal Leakage from Cable Television Systems, Second 
Report and Order, FCC 84-516, 49 FR 45431, Nov. 16, 1984 (``Second 
Report and Order''). See also Amendment to Part 76 of the 
Commission's Rules to Add Frequency Channeling Requirements and 
Restrictions and to Require Monitoring for Signal Leakage from Cable 
Television Systems, Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 85-333, 50 FR 
29394, July 19, 1985 (This MO&O addressed seven petitions for 
reconsideration, upholding the Second Report and Order broadly but 
relaxing the precision with which regular monitoring must be 
performed and expanding what system expansion may be performed under 
the grandfathering provision).
    \70\ Id.
    \71\ Second Report and Order, para. 36.
    \72\ Id. at paras. 8 through 16.
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    28. The rules established in 1984 by the Second Report and Order 
remained largely unchanged in the ensuing 25 years.\73\ However, in 
2004, the Commission extended protection to an emergency band near 406 
MHz, and set limits for interference from both analog and digital cable 
systems.\74\ The signal leakage rules are contained in Sec. Sec.  
76.610 to 76.620 (the technical rules), Sec. Sec.  76.1706, 76.1803, 
76.1804 (recordkeeping and reporting rules), and in Sec.  76.605(a)(12) 
(a general signal leakage performance rule) of the Commission's 
rules.\75\ MVPDs that operate coaxial cable systems \76\ are 
responsible for ensuring that system design, installation and operation 
comply with the rules and for compliance testing four times per 
year.\77\ Once each year, operators of coaxial cable systems must 
calculate their cumulative signal leakage and report their results to 
the Commission.\78\ As set forth below, we seek comment on the adequacy 
of these rules, our proposed modifications for digital cable 
operations, and the costs and benefits associated with them.
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    \73\ Minor changes to the rules have been made, including 
converting the rules to metric, non-substantive reorganization of 
the rules, and correction of typographical errors. See, e.g. 
Oversight of Radio and TV Rules, Order, 53 FR 2499 (Mass Media 1988) 
and Oversight of Radio and TV Rules, Correction, 53 FR 5684 (Mass 
Media 1988) (Correcting typographical errors).
    \74\ See 406 MHz Order (extending protection to the emergency 
band near 406 MHz).
    \75\ 47 CFR 76.610 through 620, 76.615(a)(12), 76.1706, 76.1803 
through 1804.
    \76\ In addition to traditional cable operators, MVPDs such as 
hotels, motels, hospitals, apartment buildings, private settlements, 
university campuses, etc., who operate coaxial cable plants are 
responsible for complying with the signal leakage rules. MVPDs with 
fewer than 1000 subscribers are exempt from the recordkeeping 
requirements. See 47 CFR 76.1700(a).
    \77\ 47 CFR 76.614.
    \78\ See 47 CFR 76.611(a)(1) (requiring operators to conduct a 
complete CLI calculation every 12 months), and 47 CFR 76.1803 
(requiring operators to report the results of their CLI testing to 
the Commission).
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1. Adapting Regulations for Digital Cable
a. Aeronautical Frequency Notifications
    29. The first component of the Commission's signal leakage regime 
is the Aeronautical Frequency Notification (``AFN''). Prior to 
commencing operation in the aeronautical radio frequency bands above an 
average power level equal to or greater than 10-4 watts 
across a 25 kHz bandwidth in any 160 microsecond time period,\79\ MVPDs 
are required to notify the Commission and provide a ``point and 
radius'' description of their system, allowing the Commission to 
generally locate the geographic area from which interference might 
aggregate.\80\ This power threshold and measurement window were 
developed for analog systems, and an equivalent for digital systems 
must be selected.
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    \79\ 47 CFR 76.1804.
    \80\ Id. This notification is submitted to the Commission on FCC 
Form 321, now collected electronically through the COALS system at 
www.fcc.gov/coals.
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    30. We propose to use the same power threshold and measurement 
window to trigger the notification requirement for AFN as the power 
threshold and measurement window that triggers the prohibition around 
the 406 MHz emergency frequencies.\81\ Near the emergency distress 
frequencies, systems are prohibited from operating above a particular 
peak power level (10-5 watts over a 30 kHz bandwidth in any 
2.5 millisecond time period).\82\ In the 406 MHz Order, the Commission 
determined that the power threshold should remain unchanged when 
considering interference from digital, rather than analog, coaxial 
cable systems, but that the measurement window needed to be adapted. 
Based on the relatively even distribution of power throughout the 
channel for digital signals, and the bandwidth of the devices receiving 
the interference,\83\ the Commission determined that for digital 
systems, a 10-5 watt average power level should be 
calculated across a 30 kHz bandwidth for a time period of 2.5 
milliseconds.\84\ Given the similar channelization of aeronautical 
receivers (25 kHz for aeronautical receivers versus 24 kHz for 
satellite), for the AFN requirement, we tentatively conclude that the 
same power threshold and measurement window are appropriate.
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    \81\ See 47 CFR 76.616(b).
    \82\ See 47 CFR 76.616. Specifically analog systems are 
prohibited from operating with a peak power level of 10-5 
watts within 100 kHz of 121.5 MHz, within 50 kHz of 156.8 MHz and 
243 MHz, and at any point between 405.925 and 406.176 MHz.
    \83\ 406 MHz Order, (``The Search and Rescue Processor subsystem 
that receives the signals transmitted from the beacons has a 
receiver bandwidth of 24 kHz. It is critical that the transmitted 
signal be received by the processor subsystem without any 
interference. Therefore, we are imposing a limit on the average 
power of a digital signal over a resolution bandwidth of 30 kHz in 
order to protect the satellite receiver from interference.'').
    \84\ 47 CFR 76.616(b).
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    31. Today, the vast majority of coaxial cable systems maintain an 
AFN on file with the Commission.\85\ The change

[[Page 61362]]

proposed above will only affect those systems that are operating a 
digital channel or channels in the aeronautical band between the 
existing analog threshold (10-4 watts peak power over a 25 
kHz bandwidth in any 160 microsecond time period) and our proposed 
digital threshold (10-5 watts average power over a 30 kHz 
bandwidth in any 2.5 millisecond time period). Under our rule proposed 
above, operators of those systems that were not previously required to 
notify the Commission will need to amend or file an AFN. We note, 
however, that some systems have transitioned to digital operation in 
these bands and ``withdrawn'' their AFN as a result. We believe that 
these systems should file a new AFN so that the Commission (for 
aeronautical users) and the Cospas-Sarsat (for international satellite 
search and rescue) can identify both potential sources of interference. 
Conversely, most modern coaxial cable systems operate on frequencies 
inclusive of the aeronautical bands, and thus only have the burden of 
notifying the Commission when the size of their system changes. 
Therefore, for the majority of systems, there is little, if any, 
additional regulatory burden as a result of this proposal as they 
should already have an AFN on file with the Commission covering the 
complete aeronautical bands and their complete service footprint. For 
those systems operating digital channels in the aeronautical bands 
below the old analog threshold but above our proposed digital threshold 
of 10-5 watts average power across a 30 kHz bandwidth in any 
2.5 millisecond period, we believe that the one-time burden of 
notification to the Commission and infrequent updating is necessary to 
ensure public safety and presents only a minor burden on coaxial cable 
operators.\86\ We seek comment on this proposal.
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    \85\ Approximately 87% of active systems have an AFN on file 
with the Commission as of July 1, 2012. See FCC Cable Operations and 
Licensing System, www.fcc.gov/COALS.
    \86\ We expect this rule change to impact only cable systems 
which have completed the transition to all-digital operation and 
deactivated their AFN and new, all-digital cable systems which have 
never filed an AFN with the Commission.
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b. Channel Frequency Offsets
    32. We propose not to apply the channel frequency offset 
requirement to digital signals as digital signals simply cannot be 
offset in the way analog frequencies can. Channel frequency offsets 
have always played a critical role in minimizing the interference 
potential from analog coaxial cable systems to both aircraft 
communication and aircraft navigation services, such as the Instrument 
Landing System (ILS) and VHF Omnidirectional Range service (VOR). The 
power levels of an analog television channel are not uniform across the 
bandwidth; rather, power is significantly higher at the center 
frequencies of each of the subcarriers contained within the channel. 
The Commission's rules prohibit the subcarriers from lining up directly 
with the ILS, VOR, or communications carriers to diminish the 
possibility that a leak will cause harmful interference to these safety 
services.\87\ As a result, the Second Report and Order established a 
channel frequency offset of 12.5 kHz, with a tolerance of  
5 kHz.\88\ This requirement is not meaningful with respect to digital 
signals, however, as digital signals do not have the discrete carriers 
necessary to effectuate an offset. Instead, digital signals operate at 
a nearly constant average power throughout the 6 MHz channel. 
Therefore, we propose to maintain the channel frequency offset 
requirement only with respect to analog signals but eliminate the 
requirement for digital signals. We note, however, that removing the 
offset requirements for digital signals does not exempt operators from 
compliance with the channelization and identification requirements of 
Sec.  76.605.\89\ We seek comment on this proposal.
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    \87\ See First Report and Order, 65 FCC 2d at 824. A 10 kHz 
offset can result in undesired signal strength diminishing by up to 
40 dB. Id. at 824 through 825.
    \88\ Second Report and Order, 99 FCC 2d at 520.
    \89\ See Proposed rule 47 CFR 76.605(b)(1)(ii) (currently 47 CFR 
76.605(a)(1)(ii)) (requiring analog channel compliance with CEA-542-
B: ``Standard: Cable Television Channel Identification Plan'') and 
proposed rule 47 CFR 76.605(c) (requiring digital channel compliance 
with ANSI/SCTE 40: ``Digital Cable Network Interface Standard,'' 
which requires compliance with CEA-542-B: ``Standard: Cable 
Television Channel Identification Plan'').
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c. Analog to Digital Interference Equivalency
    33. The Commission must address the implication of not having the 
interference protection afforded by the channel frequency offset 
requirement for digital channels. For analog signals, channel frequency 
offsets function to lower the strength of an undesired signal and our 
rules factored this offset into the signal leakage limit 
calculation.\90\ Digital signals, however, distribute their power 
evenly throughout the 6 MHz channel. While the result of this even 
distribution is a signal which cannot be offset like an analog signal, 
it does provide an average power level well below the peak power of the 
visual carrier of an analog signal. Further, because we limit our 
analysis of interference potential to the receiver bandwidth of an 
aircraft receiver, which should be no larger than 25 kHz, these two 
offsetting effects can be quantified. In their comments for the Second 
Report and Order, the FAA stated that absent frequency offsets, the 
cumulative signal leakage threshold would need to be decreased by 25 
dB.\91\ This analysis, of course, was based on 1980s receiver 
technology. Accordingly, we seek comment on improvements in receiver 
components and hardware that have resulted in improved receiver 
sensitivity, selectivity, and other performance characteristics and 
might alter this calculation. However, we tentatively conclude that we 
do not need to consider improvements in receiver selectivity, as we are 
considering, by definition, undesired signals on-channel with desired 
signals. Comparing the average power level of a digital cable signal to 
the peak power level of an analog signal, the digital signal creates 
substantially less interference. Specifically, the peak power of the 
analog visual carrier is narrowly constrained, delivering essentially 
all of its power directly into the 25 kHz receiver front-end. A digital 
signal operating at a particular average power over 6 MHz delivers only 
a small subset of its power into any particular 25 kHz bandwidth. This 
results in a digital signal operating at a particular average power 
level across a 6 MHz channel delivering 23.8 dB less power into a 
receiver having a 25 kHz bandwidth than an analog television signal 
operating at the same peak power.\92\ While the lack of frequency 
offsets increases the potential for signal interference to aviation 
receivers by 25 dB, the use of digital modulation decreases signal the 
level of potential interference by 23.8 dB, resulting in a net increase 
in interference potential of 1.2 dB for a receiver having a 25 kHz 
bandwidth.
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    \90\ Second Report and Order, 99 FCC 2d at 525.
    \91\ Id.
    \92\ The Relative bandwidth ratio of digital QAM signals to 
aviation receiver bandwidth can be calculated by the formula 10 * 
log (6 MHz/25 kHz), which equals 23.8 dB less effective interference 
power from the perspective of a 25 kHz wide aviation receiver. Wider 
receivers would receive more interference power and narrower 
receivers would receive less.
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    34. We therefore propose to amend our rules to account for this 
increase of 1.2 dB to interference from digital signals. The general 
signal leakage requirement, stated in Sec.  76.605(a)(12),\93\ provides 
that the field strength of signal leakage should not exceed 15 
microvolts per meter ([micro]V/m) measured at 30 meters for frequencies 
below 54 MHz and

[[Page 61363]]

above 216 MHz, and 20 [micro]V/m measured at 3 meters for frequencies 
between 54 MHz and 216 MHz. Accordingly, we propose to decrease the 
maximum leakage level for both of these bands by 1.2 dB, which when 
rounded to the nearest 0.1 [micro]V/m, results in a 17.4 [micro]V/m 
threshold between 54 MHz and 216 MHz, and a 13.1 [micro]V/m threshold 
at all other frequencies. We seek comment on this proposal. 
Additionally, the requirement for regular signal leakage monitoring 
requires the use of a detector capable of detecting a leak in excess of 
20 [micro]V/m at 3 meters.\94\ Following our reasoning above, we 
propose to permit the use of analog detectors with this sensitivity 
when measuring analog signals in a system which operates no digital 
signals in the aeronautical bands, but to require analog and digital 
detectors to have sufficient sensitivity to detect the 1.2 dB decrease 
in the maximum signal leakage level we propose above, or 17.4 [micro]V/
m, in those systems which operate digital signals in the aeronautical 
bands. Further, we propose to require digital leakage in excess of this 
threshold to be noted and repaired within a reasonable time, factoring 
in the severity of the leak and operational considerations. We seek 
comment regarding any potential burdens that this change in the general 
signal leakage requirement may have on operators. For instance, would 
cable operators have to acquire new or more sensitive equipment, or 
modify their testing procedures, to comply with the proposal? To the 
extent there are increased costs, are there also countervailing 
benefits?
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    \93\ 47 CFR 76.605(a)(12).
    \94\ 47 CFR 76.614.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    35. For cumulative signal leakage, there are three thresholds that 
we propose adjusting to address digital transmission. They are the 
threshold at which the rules become applicable, the threshold at which 
leaks must be included in the cumulative leakage index (``CLI'') 
calculation, and the maximum leakage and CLI permissible. Under Sec.  
76.610, the CLI rules apply where operations in the aeronautical 
frequency bands exceed an average power level of 100 microwatts 
(10-4 watts) or 38.75 dBmV in transmitting carriers or any 
signal component in a 25 kHz bandwidth in any 160 microsecond period at 
any point in the cable distribution system.\95\ We propose to decrease 
the signal level at which the rules become applicable by 1.2 dB for 
digital signals resulting in a threshold power level of 75.85 
microwatts or 37.55 dBmV. Once an operator is subject to CLI, the 
operators may demonstrate compliance based either upon a Sec.  
76.611(a)(1) ground-based measurement or by a Sec.  76.611(a)(2) 
airspace measurement.\96\ For ground-based measurements, operators must 
include analog leaks in excess of 50 [micro]V/m in the signal leakage 
index calculation, and an I3000 of less than or equal to -7 
or I[infin] of less than or equal to 64 is permissible.\97\ 
Therefore, by subtracting 1.2 dB from each of these components, we 
propose that digital leaks in excess of 43.6 [micro]V/m be included in 
the calculation (and reported to the Commission) and that the maximum 
acceptable I3000 becomes -8.2 and the maximum acceptable 
I[infin] becomes 62.8. For airspace measurements, coaxial 
cable operators may not exceed a field strength of 10 [micro]V/m RMS at 
any point 450 meters above the average terrain of the coaxial cable 
system. Converting for digital leakage, the new maximum field strength 
becomes 8.7 [micro]V/m. We seek comment on these proposals and any 
other issues that may arise from this conversion, especially on the 
equivalency of our ground and air based measurements. We also seek 
comment regarding any potential burdens that this change in the general 
signal leakage requirement may have on operators. For instance, would 
cable operators have to acquire new or more sensitive equipment, or 
modify their testing procedures, to comply with the proposal? To the 
extent there are increased costs, are there also countervailing 
benefits?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \95\ 47 CFR 76.610.
    \96\ 47 CFR 76.611(a)(1), (2).
    \97\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Miscellaneous Issues
    36. We seek comment on several additional issues associated with 
the appropriate regulation of signal leakage with regard to digital 
transmissions. First, Sec.  76.609(h) contains a detailed methodology 
for performing signal leakage measurements.\98\ This methodology, 
however, is specific to analog signals and may not be appropriate for 
digital signals. We maintain this requirement for analog signals, and 
we seek comment on an appropriate measurement technique for digital 
signals. To the extent that Sec.  76.1803 requires submission to the 
Commission of a description of the method by which compliance with the 
basic signal leakage criteria is achieved, we will continue to require 
such submission in the absence of a common procedure for digital signal 
as we believe this is necessary to permit verification of sound 
engineering practices. However, we may revisit this issue if 
measurement of digital signal leakage becomes widely standardized in 
the future.
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    \98\ 47 CFR 76.609(h). For example, 47 CFR 76.609(h)(2) directs 
the operator to express the field strength in terms of the rms (root 
mean square) value of the synchronizing peak for each cable 
television channel. Digital channels do not have a ``synchronizing 
peak.''
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    37. Next, we address the issues of what type of signal, analog or 
digital, an operator must test and what signal leakage limit they must 
adhere to. The decreased signal levels we propose in the section above 
are designed to be equivalent in interference potential to analog 
signals. Accordingly, we propose to allow operators to choose to test 
either an analog carrier using either their existing analog signal 
leakage test equipment and an offset analog signal, or a digital 
carrier using new digital signal leakage test equipment.\99\ Either 
method should yield the same peak signal leakage from the coaxial cable 
plant. Thus, we tentatively conclude that operators are allowed to 
select whether to perform tests on an analog carrier or a digital 
carrier at their discretion, except that where an operator transmits 
any digital signals in the aeronautical bands, the operator would be 
required to use the digital limits we described above.
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    \99\ ``A carrier is an electrical signal at a continuous 
frequency capable of being modified to carry information. For analog 
systems, the carrier is usually a sine wave of a particular 
frequency, such as [121.2625 MHz, commonly used for signal leakage]. 
It is the modifications or the changes from the carrier's basic 
frequency that become the information carried. Modifications are 
made via amplitude, frequency, or phase. The process of modifying a 
carrier signal is called modulation. A carrier is modulated and 
demodulated (the signal extracted at the other end) according to 
fixed protocols.'' H. Newton, Newton's Telecom Dictionary at 152 
(20th ed. 2004).
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    38. We seek comment on whether our signal leakage performance 
criteria rules are sufficient, whether or not we need to expand the 
frequencies protected, and whether to maintain the requirement that the 
test frequency be located within the 108-137 MHz band.\100\ We note 
that at the time of the Second Report and Order, 400 MHz was near the 
upper limit of the bandwidth of coaxial cable systems deployed at the 
time.\101\ Today, coaxial cable systems routinely deploy in excess of 
750 MHz, and deployments up to 1 GHz exist. We seek comment on 
potential and actual interference from coaxial cable systems to 
critical infrastructure operating above 400 MHz and the implications of 
extending signal leakage protection to

[[Page 61364]]

higher bandwidths.\102\ We further seek comment on our current testing 
and recordkeeping requirements,\103\ including the requirement that 
tests be performed every three months, that tests be reported to the 
Commission once per year, the duration of time that records must be 
kept, and any other associated burdens that might be reduced without 
diminishing the efficacy of the Commission's signal leakage program. We 
seek comment on whether to retain or modify these rules.
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    \100\ 47 CFR 76.611(b).
    \101\ Second Report and Order, 99 FCC 2d at 520.
    \102\ See, e.g. Ron Hranac, Some Thoughts on LTE Interference, 
Communications Technology (Oct. 1, 2011) available at http://www.cable360.net/ct/sections/columns/broadband/48482.html. ``In one 
case, a leak on the order of 1,000 microvolts per meter ([micro]V/m) 
was found, despite the fact that leakage in the VHF aeronautical 
band was well-below the FCC's 20 [micro]V/m limit. The problem was a 
defective tap. A replacement tap took care of the leakage, but 
follow-up lab testing of the defective tap showed it had about 40 dB 
less shielding effectiveness at 750 MHz than it did at 133 MHz 
because of a flaky faceplate gasket. That correlated well with the 
approximately 1,000 [micro]V/m leakage field strength at 750 MHz 
versus the approximately 10 [micro]V/m leakage field strength at 133 
MHz, also a 40 dB difference.''
    \103\ 47 CFR 76.614, 76.1706, 76.1803 through 1804.
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    39. Finally, we propose limiting, or potentially eliminating, the 
I3000 method of calculating CLI, favoring the 
I[infin] method.\104\ I3000 differs from 
I[infin] in that it provides discounting of leaks based on 
their distance from the geographic center of the system, whereas 
I[infin] considers all leaks equally. The respective total 
CLI values for each, however, are designed to result in equivalent 
levels of permissible leakage. At the time these formulas were 
established, systems were much smaller than they are today. Now that 
systems generally cover much larger geographical areas; the discounting 
based on distance results in a previously unforeseen breakdown in the 
I3000 formula. Specifically, for sufficiently large systems, 
significant leaks, which alone would be impermissible under the 
I[infin] formula, become minimized due to their distance 
from the center of the system. By calculation, we can determine that a 
single leak of 1340.05 [micro]V/m located at the center of a coaxial 
cable system results in that system exceeding the maximum allowable 
CLI. However, that leak, if located more than 80.32 km from the system 
center, would appear to be equivalent to a 50 [micro]V/m leak located 
at the system center. Such a leak, would be potentially strong enough 
to interfere with aircraft receivers alone, but would not be captured 
in an I3000 measurement. Therefore, we propose to limit the 
application of I3000 to systems with a total geographic 
diameter of less than 160 km. However, we also note that very few 
systems choose to calculate CLI using the I3000 method due 
to the increased recordkeeping and calculation burden associated with 
determining the distance of a particular leak from the center of a 
system. Thus, in the alternative, we propose eliminating 
I3000 as a calculation method altogether and requiring 
operators to use only I[infin]. We seek comment on both of 
these proposals.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ See 47 CFR 76.611.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Reorganizations, Corrections, and Other Updates in Part 76

    40. We further propose edits to remove references to effective 
dates that have passed, make editorial corrections, delete obsolete 
rules, update various technical standards that are incorporated by 
reference into our rules, and clarify language in Part 76 of our rules. 
The proposed changes are intended to set forth existing compliance 
requirements more clearly for MVPDs, franchising authorities, and the 
public. We seek comment on any other requirements that have been 
implemented by Commission order, but that have inadvertently been 
omitted from our rules.
    41. Specifically, we propose to remove obsolete references to dates 
in Sec. Sec.  76.56(b), 76.57(e), 76.64(a), 76.105(b), 76.127(f), 
76.309(c)(1), 76.606, 76.1204(a), 76.1601, and 76.1602. We propose to 
correct citation references in Sec. Sec.  76.56(a)(1)(i), 76.612(b)(2), 
76.1508, 76.1509, 76.1510, and 76.1701(d). We propose to correct the 
numbering and references in Section 76.1205, and to eliminate the 
duplicative reporting requirements found in Sec.  76.1610(f) and (g). 
We seek comment on these proposed changes, and encourage commenters to 
propose any other non-substantive changes to Part 76 of our rules that 
will correct errors or more clearly convey the Commission's intent.
    42. We propose to delete Sec.  76.1909, which was created as part 
of the Commission's Broadcast Flag rules in 2003, since it is obsolete 
and without legal effect.\105\ The Broadcast Flag rules were vacated by 
the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2005 
insofar as they required demodulators to give effect to the Broadcast 
Flag.\106\ The Media Bureau released an order on August, 24, 2011 
deleting the Broadcast Flag rules in Parts 15 and 73 of the 
Commission's rules, but did not delete Sec.  76.1909 from the CFR.\107\ 
Although this provision was not vacated by the Court, without the 
obligation that equipment respect the Broadcast Flag, these rules would 
seem to be ineffective. Our proposed deletion of Section 76.1909 would 
remove the obsolete Broadcast Flag Rule. We seek comment on this 
proposed deletion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \105\ See Digital Broadcast Content Protection, Report and Order 
and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 03-273, 68 FR 67624, 
Dec. 3, 2003. The broadcast flag rules were intended to prevent the 
indiscriminate redistribution of television broadcast content over 
the Internet.
    \106\ See American Library Association, et al. v. FCC, 406 F3d 
689 (D.C. Cir. 2005).
    \107\ See Amendment of Parts 1, 73 and 76 of the Commission's 
Rules, Order, DA 11-1432, 76 FR 62642 Oct. 11, 2011.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    43. We propose to update the various incorporations by reference in 
Part 76 to the most current versions made available by the relevant 
standards bodies.\108\ We believe the standards incorporated in Part 76 
have changed in minor ways since their original adoption by the 
Commission, correcting typographical errors, adding clarification, and 
updating various requirements in minor ways to reflect improvements in 
technology and continued innovation. Further, we expect that most 
industry participants are adhering to the current versions of these 
standards, even though they are not required to by our rules. The 
standards we are proposing to update are as follows: \109\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \108\ See 47 CFR 76.602, Incorporation by reference.
    \109\ SCTE standards are available from the Society of Cable 
Telecommunications Engineers Web site, located at http://www.scte.org/standards/Standards_Available.aspx, CEA standards are 
available from the Consumer Electronics Association Web site, 
located at http://www.ce.org/Standards/, and ATSC A/65 is available 
from the Advanced Television Systems Committee Web site located at 
http://www.atsc.org/cms/index.php/standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) ATSC A/65D: ``ATSC Standard: Program and System Information 
Protocol for Terrestrial Broadcast and Cable (Revision D),'' IBR used 
for Sec.  76.640.  Note: Part 76 of the Commission's rules currently 
incorporates revision B of this standard. Revision C was adopted for 
broadcast purposes in the 3rd DTV Periodic Review.\110\ Regarding cable 
television, revision D primarily adds language to reflect the 
Commission's rules implementing the standard. Additionally, the 
potential exists for revision E of this standard to be released before 
the end of 2012.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \110\ See Third Periodic Review of the Commission's Rules and 
Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital Television, Report and 
Order, FCC 07-228, 73 FR 5634, Jan. 30, 2008.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (2) CEA-542-C, ``CEA Standard: Cable Television Channel 
Identification Plan,'' IBR used for Sec.  76.605. Note: In the update 
from version B to version C, the channel plan has been extended from 
864 MHz to 1002 MHz,

[[Page 61365]]

accommodating the largest cable systems.
    (3) CEA-931-C, ``Remote Control Command Pass-through Standard for 
Home Networking,'' IBR used for Sec.  76.640. Note: This revision 
primarily extended the existing specifications to work over IP 
connections, among other minor changes.
    (4) ANSI/SCTE 26 2010 (formerly DVS 194): ``Home Digital Network 
Interface Specification with Copy Protection,'' IBR used for Sec.  
76.640. Note: The 2010 revision to SCTE 26 provides for numerous minor 
updates, adding requirements to support additional features, such as 
powering-on and off, passing through tuning, mute, and restore volume 
functions, and other minor protocol additions.
    (5) SCTE 28 2012 (formerly DVS 295): ``Host-POD Interface 
Standard,'' IBR used for Sec.  76.640. Note: The most recent version of 
SCTE 28 has not yet been ANSI approved, and merely updates and adds 
references. Previous revisions have made minor changes to the ID 
reporting mechanism, application interface, and baseline HTML profile 
requirements.
    (6) ANSI/SCTE 40 2011 (formerly DVS 313), ``Digital Cable Network 
Interface Standard,'' IBR used for Sec. Sec.  76.605 and 76.640. Note: 
The 2011 update to SCTE 40 updates internal citations, renumbers 
various tables, and makes minor adjustments to the performance 
specifications that generally loosen the standard.
    (7) ANSI/SCTE 41 2011 (formerly DVS 301): ``POD Copy Protection 
System,'' IBR used for Sec.  76.640. Note: The 2011 revision to SCTE 41 
updates internal references to other standards, requires PODs and Hosts 
to support an ``ID reporting screen,'' and removes the section on Two-
Way System Host Authentication Message Protocol.''
    (8) ANSI/SCTE 54 2009 (formerly DVS 241), ``Digital Video Service 
Multiplex and Transport System Standard for Cable Television,'' IBR 
used for Sec.  76.640. Note: The 2009 revision to SCTE 54 updates 
internal references to other standards, and containing minor revisions 
to the MPEG-2 registration descriptor, program identifier, audio 
elementary stream identifier, among others and adds a section for 
Emergency Cable Alert as adopted by the Commission's EAS orders.\111\
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    \111\ See Review of the Emergency Alert System; Independent 
Spanish Broadcasters Association, the Office of Communication of the 
United Church of Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media and 
Telecommunications Council, Petition for Immediate Relief, Second 
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 07-
109, 72 FR 62123, Nov. 2, 2007.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (9) ANSI/SCTE 65 2008 (formerly DVS 234), ``Service Information 
Delivered Out-of-Band for Digital Cable Television,'' 2008, IBR used 
for Sec.  76.640. Note: The most recent revisions to SCTE 65 primarily 
update internal references, including requiring compliance SCTE 28 for 
host-POD interaction.

We believe that the updated versions of these standards are generally 
backwards-compatible, such that parties following the version currently 
incorporated in the Commission's rules would also be in compliance with 
the current versions of these standards.\112\ We seek comment on our 
proposal to revise our rules by incorporating these updated standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \112\ For example, SCTE 40 2011 has been updated from SCTE 40 
2003 by being reordered for clarity, extended to cover systems 
operating up to 1002 MHz from 864 MHz, and revised to require less 
stringent technical performance, such as permitting stronger 
adjacent signals. Operators wishing to continue to follow the more-
strict requirements of SCTE 40 2003 would not need to alter their 
systems to comply with an update to SCTE 40 2011. See ANSI/SCTE 40 
2011: ``Digital Cable Network Interface Standard,'' available at 
www.scte.org/documents/pdf/standards/SCTE_40_2011.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    44. Finally, we propose to amend the note to Sec.  76.55(d).\113\ 
Section 76.55 contains the definitions applicable to the Commission's 
must-carry rules, and subpart (d) lists the requirements to be 
considered a ``qualified low power station.'' Among the requirements, 
Sec.  76.55(d)(4) requires the station to deliver a ``good quality 
signal'' to the appropriate cable system headend, and the Note to 
Paragraph (d) provides the definition of ``good quality signal'' in 
this context. In 2001, the Commission established the standard for 
digital television, but the Note to paragraph (d) was never 
updated.\114\ We propose, then, to amend the paragraph to list the 
digital threshold of -61 dBm at all channels. We also propose to strike 
the phrase, ``or a baseband signal'' from the note. This phrase 
contradicts both the plain language and the purpose of the section it 
clarifies. Section 76.55(d)(4), requires a low power television station 
to deliver a good quality over-the-air signal to qualify for carriage 
on the system. A baseband signal, in contrast, is not an over-the-air 
signal, instead being the result of an alternate means of 
delivery.\115\ Therefore, we tentatively conclude that the inclusion of 
the phrase ``or a baseband signal'' was inadvertent, and propose 
removing it for clarity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \113\ 47 CFR 76.55(d).
    \114\ Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast Signals; 
Amendments to Part 76 of the Commission's Rules et al, Report and 
Order, FCC 01-22, 66 FR 16523, Mar. 26, 2001.
    \115\ This note was introduced by the Memorandum, Opinion, and 
Order resolving petitions for reconsideration arising from the 1993 
Must-Carry order (See Implementation of the Cable Television 
Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 Broadcast Signal 
Carriage Issues, Memorandum, Opinion, and Order, FCC 94-251, 59 FR 
62330, Dec. 5, 1994; Resolving petitions for reconsideration arising 
from Implementation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and 
Competition Act of 1992, Broadcast Signal Carriage Issues, 
*EFFECTIVE DATES* April 2, June 3, June 17, and May 3, 1993, Report 
and Order, FCC 93-144, 58 FR 17350, Apr. 2, 1993). In so doing, the 
Commission sua sponte moved to clarify the relevant signal carriage 
standards for must-carry purposes, answering the question of under 
what circumstances ``noncommercial stations place adequate signal 
levels over a cable system's principal headend'' (see the Cable TV 
Act of 1992 at 6735-6). This standard also relates to over-the-air 
measurement, for which providing a baseband signal would not be 
appropriate. Further, the term baseband is not used in the item 
except in the appendix listing new rule language.
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IV. Procedural Matters

A. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    45. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (``RFA'') \116\ the Commission has prepared this Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (``IRFA'') of the possible significant 
economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in 
this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (``NPRM''). Written public comments 
are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to 
the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the NPRM 
provided above. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including 
this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.\117\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \116\ See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 through 612, 
has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement 
Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 
Stat. 857 (1996).
    \117\ See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
    46. With this NPRM, we propose to update our cable television 
technical rules to facilitate the cable industry's widespread 
transition from analog to digital transmission systems. Specifically, 
we seek comment on our proposals to modernize and modify the 
Commission's proof-of-performance rules and basic signal leakage 
performance criteria. In addition, we propose modifications throughout 
Part 76 to remove outdated language, correct citations, and make other 
minor or non-substantive updates. We seek to adopt clear and effective 
rules that reflect technological advancements in the cable

[[Page 61366]]

television industry, and to apply them to cable operators in a way that 
is minimally burdensome.
    47. Cable Signal Quality (Proof-of-Performance). The need for FCC 
action in this area derives from changing technology in the cable 
services market. Section 624(e) of the Communications Act requires the 
Commission to maintain standards for cable systems to ensure that 
consumers receive good quality signals. When the Commission adopted 
technical rules in the 1990s, digital cable service was in its infancy, 
and therefore the rules were adopted with analog cable service in mind. 
Today, digital cable service is common, but certain analog technical 
rules related to cable service do not translate well to digital cable. 
Therefore, the NPRM proposes to establish proof-of-performance rules 
that specifically address digital technology. Today, digital cable can 
be divided into those systems which utilize QAM, a type of digital 
modulation, and those that do not. QAM digital cable is used by the 
majority of systems to serve the vast majority of cable subscribers in 
the United States. Therefore, the NPRM proposes to adopt a QAM 
standard, SCTE 40, which was designed to ensure that unidirectional 
CableCARD products receive good quality service, and to apply it 
broadly as a new proof-of-performance standard for QAM digital cable 
systems. For non-QAM systems to which SCTE 40 cannot be applied, the 
NPRM proposes a new, streamlined process by which each such system can 
coordinate with the Commission to develop a plan to follow. Thus, the 
Commission seeks to ensure that consumers continue to receive good 
quality cable service while imposing the minimum possible compliance, 
testing, and recordkeeping burden on cable operators.
    48. Cable Signal Leakage (CLI). The NPRM further tentatively 
concludes that the Commission's protection of spectrum used for 
aeronautical navigation and communication remains a critical need for 
public safety. However, the rules designed for analog systems were 
established prior to the current widespread deployment of digital cable 
technology and must be updated to provide adequate protection to 
aeronautical frequencies from digital systems. With the proposed 
digital rules, MVPDs utilizing coaxial cable systems will no longer be 
prohibited from operating above certain power thresholds. By updating 
our signal leakage standards, removing the required channel offsets, 
but retaining notification of operation above certain power levels and 
regular testing, recordkeeping, and reporting, operators will be 
permitted to operate above these thresholds provided they can 
demonstrate a lack of harm to other spectrum users. In so doing, cable 
operators will be able to offer additional and expanded services on 
these aeronautical frequency bands, thus utilizing their facilities 
more efficiently. Therefore, the Commission predicts that these rules 
will be a benefit to small entities, which have generally fewer 
resources to expand their facilities to higher frequencies to avoid 
causing interference to the aeronautical bands. Further, the Commission 
predicts that by adopting flexible rules for testing leakage, small 
entities will be able to demonstrate their lack of leakage with 
minimal, if any, additional burden.
    49. Finally, by revising and updating the Commission's rules, the 
Commission seeks to make it easier for MVPDs to understand the 
Commission's rules, and therefore to make compliance more 
straightforward. By reducing the burden associated with reading and 
interpreting the Commission's rules, we believe that small entities 
will need to expend fewer resources to ensure compliance.
2. Legal Basis
    50. The authority for the action proposed in this rulemaking is 
contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 301, 302a, 303, 307, 308, 624(e), 
and 624A of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 
154(i), 154(j), 301, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 308, 544(e), and 544a.
3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply
    51. The RFA directs the Commission to provide a description of and, 
where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that will 
be affected by the proposed rules.\118\ The RFA generally defines the 
term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental entity'' 
under section 3 of the Small Business Act.\119\ In addition, the term 
``small business'' has the same meaning as the term ``small business 
concern'' under the Small Business Act.\120\ A small business concern 
is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not 
dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional 
criteria established by the Small Business Administration 
(``SBA'').\121\
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    \118\ 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
    \119\ 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition 
of ``small business concern'' in 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to the 
RFA, the statutory definition of a small business applies, ``unless 
an agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the SBA 
and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more 
definitions of such the term which are appropriate to the activities 
of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal 
Register.
    \120\ 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition 
of ``small business concern'' in the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 
632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a 
small business applies ``unless an agency, after consultation with 
the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and 
after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more 
definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of 
the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal 
Register.''
    \121\ 15 U.S.C. 632. Application of the statutory criteria of 
dominance in its field of operation, and independence are sometime 
difficult to apply in the context of broadcast television. 
Accordingly, the Commission's statistical account of television 
stations may be over-inclusive.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    52. Cable and Other Program Distribution. Since 2007, these 
services have been defined within the broad economic census category of 
Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is defined as follows: 
``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating 
and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure 
that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, 
sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission 
facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of 
technologies.'' \122\ The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or 
fewer employees.\123\ According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there 
were a total of 955 firms in the subcategory of Cable and Other Program 
Distribution that operated for the entire year.\124\ Of this total, 939 
firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 16 firms had 
employment of 1000 employees or more.\125\ Thus, under this size 
standard, the Commission believes that a majority of firms operating in 
this industry can be considered small.
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    \122\ U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, ``517110 Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers'' (partial definition), http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
    \123\ 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 517110 (2007).
    \124\ U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 Economic Census, Subject Series: 
Information, Table 5, Employment Size of Firms for the United 
States: 2007, NAICS code 5171102 (located at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-_skip=600&-ds_name=EC0751SSSZ5&-_lang=en).
    \125\ See id.
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    53. Cable Companies and Systems (Rate Regulation Standard). The 
Commission has also developed its own small business size standards, 
for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, 
a ``small cable

[[Page 61367]]

company'' is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide.\126\ 
Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all 
but 11 are small under this size standard.\127\ In addition, under the 
Commission's rules, a ``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 
or fewer subscribers.\128\ Industry data indicate that, of 6,635 
systems nationwide, 5,802 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an 
additional 302 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers.\129\ Thus, under 
this second size standard, the Commission believes that most cable 
systems are small.
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    \126\ 47 CFR 76.901(e). The Commission determined that this size 
standard equates approximately to a size standard of $100 million or 
less in annual revenues. Implementation of Sections of the 1992 
Cable Act: Rate Regulation, Sixth Report and Order and Eleventh 
Order on Reconsideration, 10 FCC Rcd 7393, 7408 (1995).
    \127\ These data are derived from: R.R. Bowker, Broadcasting & 
Cable Yearbook 2006, ``Top 25 Cable/Satellite Operators,'' pages A-8 
& C-2 (data current as of June 30, 2005); Warren Communications 
News, Television & Cable Factbook 2006, ``Ownership of Cable Systems 
in the United States,'' pages D-1805 to D-1857.
    \128\ 47 CFR 76.901(c).
    \129\ Warren Communications News, Television & Cable Factbook 
2008, ``U.S. Cable Systems by Subscriber Size,'' page F-2 (data 
current as of Oct. 2007). The data do not include 851 systems for 
which classifying data were not available.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    54. Cable System Operators. The Act also contains a size standard 
for small cable system operators, which is ``a cable operator that, 
directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 
percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated 
with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the 
aggregate exceed $250,000,000.'' \130\ The Commission has determined 
that an operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed 
a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total 
annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in 
the aggregate.\131\ Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable 
operators nationwide, all but 10 are small under this size 
standard.\132\ We note that the Commission neither requests nor 
collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated 
with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million,\133\ and 
therefore we are unable to estimate more accurately the number of cable 
system operators that would qualify as small under this size standard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \130\ 47 U.S.C. 543(m)(2); see also 47 CFR 76.901(f) & nn.1-3.
    \131\ 47 CFR 76.901(f); see FCC Announces New Subscriber Count 
for the Definition of Small Cable Operator, Public Notice, 16 FCC 
Rcd 2225 (Cable Services Bureau 2001).
    \132\ These data are derived from R.R. Bowker, Broadcasting & 
Cable Yearbook 2006, ``Top 25 Cable/Satellite Operators,'' pages A-8 
& C-2 (data current as of June 30, 2005); Warren Communications 
News, Television & Cable Factbook 2006, ``Ownership of Cable Systems 
in the United States,'' pages D-1805 to D-1857.
    \133\ The Commission does receive such information on a case-by-
case basis if a cable operator appeals a local franchise authority's 
finding that the operator does not qualify as a small cable operator 
pursuant to Sec.  76.901(f) of the Commission's rules.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    55. Open Video Services. Open Video Service (OVS) systems provide 
subscription services.\134\ The open video system (``OVS'') framework 
was established in 1996, and is one of four statutorily recognized 
options for the provision of video programming services by local 
exchange carriers.\135\ The OVS framework provides opportunities for 
the distribution of video programming other than through cable systems. 
Because OVS operators provide subscription services,\136\ OVS falls 
within the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, 
which is ``Wired Telecommunications Carriers.'' \137\ The SBA has 
developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: 
all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business 
prevalence for the OVS service, the Commission relies on data currently 
available from the U.S. Census for the year 2007. According to that 
source, there were 3,188 firms that in 2007 were Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers. Of these, 3,144 operated with less than 
1,000 employees, and 44 operated with more than 1,000 employees. 
However, as to the latter 44 there is no data available that shows how 
many operated with more than 1,500 employees. Based on this data, the 
majority of these firms can be considered small.\138\ In addition, we 
note that the Commission has certified some OVS operators, with some 
now providing service.\139\ Broadband service providers (``BSPs'') are 
currently the only significant holders of OVS certifications or local 
OVS franchises.\140\ The Commission does not have financial or 
employment information regarding the entities authorized to provide 
OVS, some of which may not yet be operational. Thus, at least some of 
the OVS operators may qualify as small entities. The Commission further 
notes that it has certified approximately 45 OVS operators to serve 116 
areas, and some of these are currently providing service.\141\ 
Affiliates of Residential Communications Network, Inc. (RCN) received 
approval to operate OVS systems in New York City, Boston, Washington, 
DC, and other areas. RCN has sufficient revenues to assure that they do 
not qualify as a small business entity. Little financial information is 
available for the other entities that are authorized to provide OVS and 
are not yet operational. Given that some entities authorized to provide 
OVS service have not yet begun to generate revenues, the Commission 
concludes that up to 44 OVS operators (those remaining) might qualify 
as small businesses that may be affected by the rules and policies 
adopted herein.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \134\ See 47 U.S.C. 573.
    \135\ 47 U.S.C. 571(a)(3) through (4). See 13th Annual Report, 
24 FCC Rcd at 606, para. 135.
    \136\ See 47 U.S.C. 573.
    \137\ U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, 517110 Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers, http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
    \138\ See http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-fds_name=EC0700A1&-geo_id=&-_skip=600&-ds_name=EC0751SSSZ5&-_lang=en.
    \139\ A list of OVS certifications may be found at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/ovs/csovscer.html.
    \140\ See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 606-07 para. 135. 
BSPs are newer firms that are building state-of-the-art, facilities-
based networks to provide video, voice, and data services over a 
single network.
    \141\ See http:// www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/current-filings-certification-open-video-systems (current as of July 2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    56. Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) Systems, also known 
as Private Cable Operators (PCOs). SMATV systems or PCOs are video 
distribution facilities that use closed transmission paths without 
using any public right-of-way. They acquire video programming and 
distribute it via terrestrial wiring in urban and suburban multiple 
dwelling units such as apartments and condominiums, and commercial 
multiple tenant units such as hotels and office buildings. SMATV 
systems or PCOs are now included in the SBA's broad economic census 
category, ``Wired Telecommunications Carriers,'' \142\ which was 
developed for small wireline firms.\143\ Under this category, the SBA 
deems a wireline business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees.\144\ Census data for 2007 indicate that in that year there 
were 1,906 firms operating businesses as wired telecommunications 
carriers. Of that 1,906, 1,880 operated with 999 or fewer employees, 
and 26 operated with 1,000 employee or more. Based on this data, we 
estimate that a majority of operators of SMATV/PCO companies

[[Page 61368]]

were small under the applicable SBA size standard.\145\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \142\ See 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 517110 (2007).
    \143\ Although SMATV systems often use DBS video programming as 
part of their service package to subscribers, they are not included 
in section 340's definition of ``satellite carrier.'' See 47 U.S.C. 
340(i)(1) and 338(k)(3); 17 U.S.C. 119(d)(6).
    \144\ 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 517110 (2007).
    \145\ http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ5&prodType=table.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Description of Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements
    57. The rules proposed in the NPRM will impose additional 
reporting, recordkeeping, and compliance requirements on cable 
operators. Currently, all cable operators are required to perform 
proof-of-performance testing twice each year, in the warmest and 
coldest parts of the year, to document the successful completion of 
those tests, and to maintain the records in their public file for five 
years. Further, all operators of coaxial cable systems, which includes 
not just cable operators but non-cable operators, such as PCOs, Open 
Video Systems, SMATV operators, are required to perform signal leakage 
testing four times per year, to document the results of those test, to 
maintain those records in their public file for five years, and to 
submit the results of one of those tests on FCC Form 320 to the 
Commission. The NPRM proposes tests to new digital standards, to be 
performed by operators of hybrid and all-digital cable systems, but 
maintains the existing recordkeeping requirements.
5. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities, and 
Significant Alternatives Considered
    58. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.\146\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \146\ 5 U.S.C. 603(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    59. Cable Signal Quality (Proof-of-Performance). In this NPRM, the 
Commission tentatively concludes that creating rules for digital cable 
systems using QAM will lead to benefits for consumers in the form of 
consistent, good quality signals, and will reduce the burden on 
operators by removing the need to file individual waivers for exemption 
from the analog rules. For non-QAM systems, where simple standards are 
not readily available, the NPRM proposes a streamlined process which 
will reduce the economic burden on small operators of filing formal 
waivers by providing a case-by-case evaluation of a proof-of-
performance plan based on the operator's internal guidelines. Therefore 
the Commission believes that this proposed streamlined process will 
result in minimal additional burdens on small entities. The Commission 
predicts that adopting a simple, easily understood signal quality 
standard already supported by numerous entities protects the public 
interest with a minimum of burden on cable operators.
    60. With respect to the modification of technical standards for 
digital cable transmission, the Commission considered maintaining the 
status quo. The Commission has tentatively concluded that its proposal 
to adopt new standards for signal quality with respect to digital 
service will provide cable operators with certainty that the signals 
that they provide to their subscribers are of adequate quality, and 
permit them to operate within the Commission's rules without submitting 
individual waiver requests. The Commission's proposed rules are based 
on performance rather than design standards, and are already required 
of some cable systems as a result of their support for CableCARD 
products. Therefore, no new burdens of compliance will be imposed on 
these systems. The rules further reduce burdens on small entities 
because they contain provisions for small cable systems to test fewer 
channels, and to test those channels in fewer locations. The proposed 
rules further simplify the means by which these numbers are calculated. 
Finally, similar to the analog rules the recordkeeping burden 
associated with this testing is not required of very small systems.
    61. Cable Signal Leakage (CLI). With respect to the proposals 
regarding basic signal leakage performance criteria, the Commission has 
undertaken to create a digital rule equivalent in interference 
protection to basic signal rules for analog cable signals. The existing 
basic signal leakage rules as they apply to analog cable signals cannot 
apply to digital cable signals due to the differences in the physical 
attributes of the two types of signals. However, the Commission has 
proposed a testing procedure that permits systems with limited 
resources to continue utilizing existing equipment when complying with 
the new, digital standards.
    62. We welcome comments that suggest modifications of any proposal 
if based on evidence of potential differential impact on smaller 
entities. We also seek comment on alternatives to the proposed rules 
that would assist small entities while ensuring the Commission's goals 
of providing good quality signals to consumers and protecting 
aeronautical communications and spectrum users from interference are 
met.
6. Federal Rules Which Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Commission's Proposals
    63. None.

B. Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    64. This NPRM has been analyzed with respect to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (``PRA'') \147\ and contains proposed modified 
information collection requirements.\148\ It will be submitted to the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Section 3507(d) 
of the PRA.\149\ The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to 
reduce paperwork burdens, invites OMB, the general public, and other 
interested parties to comment on the information collection 
requirements contained in this document, as required by the PRA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \147\ The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (``PRA''), Public Law 
104-13, 109 Stat. 163 (1995) (codified in Chapter 35 of title 44 
U.S.C.).
    \148\ See OMB Control Nos. 3060-0289 (proof-of-performance test 
data* * *); 3060-0331 (aeronautical frequency notification, FCC Form 
321; 3060-0332 (signal leakage logs and repair records), and 3060-
0433 (basic signal leakage performance report, FCC Form 320).
    \149\ See 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Ex Parte Presentations

    65. Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding will be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules.\150\ Ex parte presentations are permissible if 
disclosed in accordance with Commission rules, except during the 
Sunshine Agenda period when presentations, ex parte or otherwise, are 
generally prohibited. Persons making oral ex parte presentations are 
reminded that a memorandum summarizing a presentation must contain a 
summary of the substance of the presentation and not merely a listing 
of the subjects discussed.\151\ More than a one- or two-sentence 
description of the views and arguments presented is generally

[[Page 61369]]

required.\152\ Additional rules pertaining to oral and written 
presentations in ``permit-but-disclose'' proceedings are set forth in 
Sec.  1.1206(b) of the rules.\153\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \150\ See 47 CFR 1.1206 (rule for permit-but-disclose'' 
proceedings); see also 47 CFR 1.1200 through 1.1216.
    \151\ See 47 CFR 1.1206(b)(2).
    \152\ See id.
    \153\ See 47 CFR 1.1206(b). See also Commission Emphasizes the 
Public's Responsibilities in Permit-But-Disclose Proceedings, Public 
Notice, 15 FCC Rcd 19945 (2000). We note that the Commission 
recently amended the rules governing the content of ex parte 
notices. See Amendment of the Commission's Ex Parte Rules and Other 
Procedural Rules, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, GC Docket No. 10-43, FCC 11-11, paras. 35 through 36 
(rel. Feb. 2, 2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    66. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex 
parte submissions will be publically available online via ECFS.\154\ 
These documents will also be available for public inspection during 
regular business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, which 
is located in Room CY-A257 at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554. The Reference Information Center is open to the 
public Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 
from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \154\ Documents will generally be available electronically in 
ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Ordering Clauses

    67. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority 
contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 301, 302a, 303, 307, 308, 624(e), 
and 624A of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 
154(i), 154(j), 301, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 308, 544(e), and 544a, notice 
is hereby given of the proposals and tentative conclusions described in 
this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
    68. It is further ordered that the Reference Information Center, 
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, shall send a copy of this 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 76

    Cable television, Incorporation by reference, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 part 76 as follows:

PART 76--MULTICHANNEL VIDEO AND CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE:

    1. The Authority Citation for part 76 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 154, 301, 302, 302a, 303, 
303a, 307, 308, 309, 312, 315, 317, 325, 339, 340, 341, 503, 521, 
522, 531, 532, 534, 535, 536, 537, 543, 544, 544a, 545, 548, 549, 
552, 554, 556, 558, 560, 561, 571, 572, 573.

    2. Revise Sec.  76.55 Note to paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.55  Definitions applicable to the must-carry rules.

* * * * *

    Note to Paragraph (d): For the purposes of this section, for 
over-the-air broadcast, a good quality signal shall mean a signal 
level of either -45 dBm for analog VHF signals, -49 dBm for analog 
UHF signals, or -61 dBm for digital signals (at all channels) at the 
input terminals of the signal processing equipment.

* * * * *
    3. Revise Sec.  76.56 (a)(1)(i) and (b) introductory text to read 
as follows:


Sec.  76.56  Signal carriage obligations.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (i) Systems with 12 or fewer usable activated channels, as defined 
in Sec.  76.5(oo), shall be required to carry the signal of one such 
station;
* * * * *
    (b) Carriage of local commercial television stations. A cable 
television system shall carry local commercial broadcast television 
stations in accordance with the following provisions:
* * * * *
    4. Revise Sec.  76.57(e) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.57  Channel positioning.

* * * * *
    (e) At the time a local commercial station elects must-carry status 
pursuant to Sec.  76.64, such station shall notify the cable system of 
its choice of channel position as specified in paragraphs (a), (b), and 
(d) of this section. A qualified NCE station shall notify the cable 
system of its choice of channel position when it requests carriage.
* * * * *
    5. Revise Sec.  76.64(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.64  Retransmission consent.

    (a) No multichannel video programming distributor shall retransmit 
the signal of any commercial broadcasting station without the express 
authority of the originating station, except as provided in paragraph 
(b) of this section.
* * * * *
    6. Revise Sec.  76.105(b) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  76.105  Notifications.

* * * * *
    (b) Broadcasters entering into contracts which contain syndicated 
exclusivity protection shall notify affected cable systems within sixty 
calendar days of the signing of such a contract. A broadcaster shall be 
entitled to exclusivity protection beginning on the later of:
* * * * *


Sec.  76.127  [Amended]

    7. In Sec.  76.127, remove paragraph (f).
    8. Revise Sec.  76.309(c) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  76.309  Customer service obligations.

* * * * *
    (c) Cable operators are subject to the following customer service 
standards:
* * * * *
    9. Revise Sec.  76.601(b) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.601  Performance tests.

* * * * *
    (b) The operator of each cable television system shall conduct 
complete performance tests of that system at least twice each calendar 
year (at intervals not to exceed seven months), unless otherwise noted 
below. The performance tests shall be directed at determining the 
extent to which the system complies with all the technical standards 
set forth in Sec.  76.605 and shall be as follows:
    (1) For cable television systems with 1000 or more subscribers but 
with 12,500 or fewer subscribers, proof-of-performance tests conducted 
pursuant to this section shall include measurements taken at six (6) 
widely separated points. However, within each cable system, one 
additional test point shall be added for every additional 12,500 
subscribers or fraction thereof (e.g., 7 test points if 12,501 to 
25,000 subscribers; 8 test points if 25,001 to 37,500 subscribers, 
etc.). In addition, for technically integrated portions of cable 
systems that are not mechanically continuous (e.g., employing microwave 
connections), at least one test point will be required for each portion 
of the cable system served by a technically integrated hub. The proof-
of-performance test points chosen shall be balanced to represent all 
geographic areas served by the cable system and should include at least 
one test point in each local franchise area. At least one-third of the 
test points shall be representative of subscriber terminals most 
distant from the system input and

[[Page 61370]]

from each microwave receiver (if microwave transmissions are employed), 
in terms of cable length. The measurements may be taken at convenient 
monitoring points in the cable network: provided, that data shall be 
included to relate the measured performance of the system as would be 
viewed from a nearby subscriber terminal. An identification of the 
instruments, including the makes, model numbers, and the most recent 
date of calibration, a description of the procedures utilized, and a 
statement of the qualifications of the person performing the tests 
shall also be included.
    (2) Proof-of-performance tests to determine the extent to which a 
cable television system complies with the standards set forth in Sec.  
76.605(b)(3), (4), and (5) shall be made on each of the NTSC or similar 
video channels of that system. Unless otherwise as noted, proof-of-
performance tests for all other standards in Sec.  76.605(b) shall be 
made on a minimum of five (5) channels for systems operating a total 
activated channel capacity of less than 550 MHz, and ten (10) channels 
for systems operating a total activated channel capacity of 550 MHz or 
greater. The channels selected for testing must be representative of 
all the channels within the cable television system.
    (i) The operator of each cable television system shall conduct 
semi-annual proof-of-performance tests of that system, to determine the 
extent to which the system complies with the technical standards set 
forth in Sec.  76.605(b)(4) as follows. The visual signal level on each 
channel shall be measured and recorded, along with the date and time of 
the measurement, once every six hours (at intervals of not less than 
five hours or no more than seven hours after the previous measurement), 
to include the warmest and the coldest times, during a 24-hour period 
in January or February and in July or August.
    (ii) The operator of each cable television system shall conduct 
triennial proof-of-performance tests of its system to determine the 
extent to which the system complies with the technical standards set 
forth in Sec.  76.605(b)(11).
    (3) Proof-of-performance tests to determine the extent to which a 
cable television system complies with the standards set forth in Sec.  
76.605(c)(1) shall be made on each of the QAM or similar video channels 
of that system. Unless otherwise as noted, proof-of-performance tests 
for all other standards in Sec.  76.605(c) shall be made on a minimum 
of five (5) channels for systems operating a total activated channel 
capacity of less than 550 MHz, and ten (10) channels for systems 
operating a total activated channel capacity of 550 MHz or greater. The 
channels selected for testing must be representative of all the 
channels within the cable television system.
    (4) For cable televisions systems which operate both NTSC or 
similar and QAM of similar channels, proof-of-performance tests to 
determine the extent to which the cable televisions system complies 
with Sec.  76.605(b)(1), (2), (6) through (11) and 76.605(c)(1) shall 
be apportioned relative to the proportion of channels allocated to each 
transmission type, except that at no time shall less than two channels 
of a particular type be tested.
* * * * *
    10. Revise Sec.  76.602 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.602  Incorporation by Reference.

    (a) The materials listed in this section are incorporated by 
reference in this part. These incorporations by reference were approved 
by the Director of the Federal Register in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 
552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. These materials are incorporated as they 
exist on the date of the approval, and notice of any change in these 
materials will be published in the Federal Register. The materials are 
available for inspection at the Federal Communications Commission, 445 
12th. St. SW., Reference Information Center, Room CY-A257, Washington, 
DC 20554 and at the National Archives and Records Administration 
(NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, 
call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html. (b) ATSC. The 
following materials are available from Advanced Television Systems 
Committee (ATSC), 1776 K Street NW., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20006; 
phone: 202-872-9160; or online at http://www.atsc.org/standards.html.
    (1) ATSC A/65D: ``ATSC Standard: Program and System Information 
Protocol for Terrestrial Broadcast and Cable (Revision D),'' April 14, 
2009, IBR approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (2) ATSC A/85:2011 ``ATSC Recommended Practice: Techniques for 
Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television,'' 
(July 25, 2011) (``ATSC A/85 RP''), IBR approved for Sec.  76.607.
    (c) CEA. The following materials are available from Consumer 
Electronics Association (CEA), 1919 S. Eads St., Arlington, VA 22202; 
phone: 866-858-1555; or online at http://www.ce.org/standards.
    (1) CEA-542-C, ``CEA Standard: Cable Television Channel 
Identification Plan,'' July 2009, IBR approved for Sec.  76.605.
    (2) CEA-931-C, ``Remote Control Command Pass-through Standard for 
Home Networking,'' 2007, IBR approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (d) SCTE. The following materials are available from Society of 
Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), 140 Philips Road, Exton, PA 
19341-1318; phone: 800-542-5040; or online at http://www.scte.org/standards/Standards_Available.aspx.
    (1) ANSI/SCTE 26 2010 (formerly DVS 194): ``Home Digital Network 
Interface Specification with Copy Protection,'' 2010, IBR approved for 
Sec.  76.640.
    (2) ANSI/SCTE 28 2012 (formerly DVS 295): ``Host-POD Interface 
Standard,'' 2012, IBR approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (3) ANSI/SCTE 40 2011 (formerly DVS 313), ``Digital Cable Network 
Interface Standard,'' 2011, IBR approved for Sec. Sec.  76.605 and 
76.640.
    (4) ANSI/SCTE 41 2011 (formerly DVS 301): ``POD Copy Protection 
System,'' 2011, IBR approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (5) ANSI/SCTE 54 2009 (formerly DVS 241), ``Digital Video Service 
Multiplex and Transport System Standard for Cable Television,'' 2009, 
IBR approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (6) ANSI/SCTE 65 2008 (formerly DVS 234), ``Service Information 
Delivered Out-of-Band for Digital Cable Television,'' 2008, IBR 
approved for Sec.  76.640.
    (e) Some standards listed above are also available for purchase 
from the following sources:
    (1) American National Standards Institute (ANSI), 25 West 43rd 
Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10036; phone: 212-642-4980; or online 
at http://webstore.ansi.org/. Show citation box
    (2) Global Engineering Documents (standards reseller), 15 Inverness 
Way East, Englewood, CO 80112; phone: 800-854-7179; or online at http://global.ihs.com.
    11. Revise Sec.  76.605 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.605  Technical standards.

    (a) The following requirements apply to the performance of a cable 
television system as measured at any subscriber terminal with a matched 
impedance at the termination point or at the output of the modulating 
or processing equipment (generally the headend) of the cable television 
system or otherwise noted. The requirements of paragraph (b) of this 
section are applicable to each NTSC or similar video downstream cable

[[Page 61371]]

television channel in the system, the requirements of paragraph (c) of 
this section are applicable to each QAM or similar video downstream 
cable television channel in the system, and the requirements of 
paragraph (d) of this section are applicable to all downstream cable 
television channels in the system. Cable television systems utilizing 
other technologies to distribute programming must comply with paragraph 
(e) of this section.
    (b) For each NTSC or similar video downstream cable television 
channel in the system:
    (1)(i) The cable television channels delivered to the subscriber's 
terminal shall be capable of being received and displayed by TV 
broadcast receivers used for off-the-air reception of TV broadcast 
signals, as authorized under part 73 of this chapter; and
    (ii) Cable television systems shall transmit signals to subscriber 
premises equipment on frequencies in accordance with the channel 
allocation plan set forth in CEA-542-C: ``Standard: Cable Television 
Channel Identification Plan,'' (Incorporated by reference, see Sec.  
76.602).
    (2) The aural center frequency of the aural carrier must be 4.5 MHz 
 5 kHz above the frequency of the visual carrier at the 
output of the modulating or processing equipment of a cable television 
system, and at the subscriber terminal.
    (3) The visual signal level, across a terminating impedance which 
correctly matches the internal impedance of the cable system as viewed 
from the subscriber terminal, shall not be less than 1 millivolt across 
an internal impedance of 75 ohms (0 dBmV). Additionally, as measured at 
the end of a 30 meter (100 foot) cable drop that is connected to the 
subscriber tap, it shall not be less than 1.41 millivolts across an 
internal impedance of 75 ohms (+3 dBmV). (At other impedance values, 
the minimum visual signal level, as viewed from the subscriber 
terminal, shall be the square root of 0.0133 (Z) millivolts and, as 
measured at the end of a 30 meter (100 foot) cable drop that is 
connected to the subscriber tap, shall be 2 times the square root of 
0.00662(Z) millivolts, where Z is the appropriate impedance value.)
    (4) The visual signal level on each channel, as measured at the end 
of a 30 meter cable drop that is connected to the subscriber tap, shall 
not vary more than 8 decibels within any six-month interval, which must 
include four tests performed in six-hour increments during a 24-hour 
period in July or August and during a 24-hour period in January or 
February, and shall be maintained within:
    (i) 3 decibels (dB) of the visual signal level of any visual 
carrier within a 6 MHz nominal frequency separation;
    (ii) 10 dB of the visual signal level on any other channel on a 
cable television system of up to 300 MHz of cable distribution system 
upper frequency limit, with a 1 dB increase for each additional 100 MHz 
of cable distribution system upper frequency limit (e.g., 11 dB for a 
system at 301-400 MHz; 12 dB for a system at 401-500 MHz, etc.); and
    (iii) A maximum level such that signal degradation due to overload 
in the subscriber's receiver or terminal does not occur.
    (5) The rms voltage of the aural signal shall be maintained between 
10 and 17 decibels below the associated visual signal level. This 
requirement must be met both at the subscriber terminal and at the 
output of the modulating and processing equipment (generally the 
headend). For subscriber terminals that use equipment which modulate 
and remodulate the signal (e.g., baseband converters), the rms voltage 
of the aural signal shall be maintained between 6.5 and 17 decibels 
below the associated visual signal level at the subscriber terminal.
    (6) The amplitude characteristic shall be within a range of 2 decibels from 0.75 MHz to 5.0 MHz above the lower boundary 
frequency of the cable television channel, referenced to the average of 
the highest and lowest amplitudes within these frequency boundaries. 
The amplitude characteristic shall be measured at the subscriber 
terminal.
    (7) The ratio of RF visual signal level to system noise shall not 
be less than 43 decibels. For class I cable television channels, the 
requirements of this section are applicable only to:
    (i) Each signal which is delivered by a cable television system to 
subscribers within the predicted Grade B or noise-limited service 
contour, as appropriate, for that signal;
    (ii) Each signal which is first picked up within its predicted 
Grade B or noise-limited service contour, as appropriate;
    (iii) Each signal that is first received by the cable television 
system by direct video feed from a TV broadcast station, a low power TV 
station, or a TV translator station.
    (8) The ratio of visual signal level to the rms amplitude of any 
coherent disturbances such as intermodulation products, second and 
third order distortions or discrete-frequency interfering signals not 
operating on proper offset assignments shall be as follows:
    (i) The ratio of visual signal level to coherent disturbances shall 
not be less than 51 decibels for noncoherent channel cable television 
systems, when measured with modulated carriers and time averaged; and
    (ii) The ratio of visual signal level to coherent disturbances 
which are frequency-coincident with the visual carrier shall not be 
less than 47 decibels for coherent channel cable systems, when measured 
with modulated carriers and time averaged.
    (9) The terminal isolation provided to each subscriber terminal:
    (i) Shall not be less than 18 decibels. In lieu of periodic 
testing, the cable operator may use specifications provided by the 
manufacturer for the terminal isolation equipment to meet this 
standard; and
    (ii) Shall be sufficient to prevent reflections caused by open-
circuited or short-circuited subscriber terminals from producing 
visible picture impairments at any other subscriber terminal.
    (10) The peak-to-peak variation in visual signal level caused by 
undesired low frequency disturbances (hum or repetitive transients) 
generated within the system, or by inadequate low frequency response, 
shall not exceed 3 percent of the visual signal level. Measurements 
made on a single channel using a single unmodulated carrier may be used 
to demonstrate compliance with this parameter at each test location.
    (11) The following requirements apply to the performance of the 
cable television system as measured at the output of the modulating or 
processing equipment (generally the headend) of the system:
    (i) The chrominance-luminance delay inequality (or chroma delay), 
which is the change in delay time of the chrominance component of the 
signal relative to the luminance component, shall be within 170 
nanoseconds.
    (ii) The differential gain for the color subcarrier of the 
television signal, which is measured as the difference in amplitude 
between the largest and smallest segments of the chrominance signal 
(divided by the largest and expressed in percent), shall not exceed 
20%.
    (iii) The differential phase for the color subcarrier of the 
television signal which is measured as the largest phase difference in 
degrees between each segment of the chrominance signal and reference 
segment (the segment at the blanking level of 0 IRE), shall not exceed 
10 degrees.

[[Page 61372]]

    (c) For each downstream QAM or similar video downstream cable 
television channel in the system the technical requirements of ANSI/
SCTE 40 2011 (Formerly DVS 313): ``Digital Cable Network Interface 
Standard'' (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  76.602) shall apply, 
provided:
    (1) For purposes of demonstrating compliance with proof-of-
performance, the RF transmission characteristics of Table 4 shall be 
tested and recorded pursuant to Sec. Sec.  76.601 and 76.1706.
    (2) For purposes of demonstrating compliance with proof-of-
performance, the Adjacent Channel Characteristics of Table 6 and the 
Nominal Relative Carrier Power Levels of Table 5 shall be tested and 
recorded pursuant to Sec. Sec.  76.601 and 76.1706.
    (d) As an exception to the general provision requiring measurements 
to be made at subscriber terminals, and without regard to the type of 
signals carried by the cable television system, signal leakage shall be 
limited as follows:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Signal leakage       Distance in
           Frequencies                   limit             meters (m)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Analog signals less than and      15[micro]V/m.......                 30
 including 54 MHz, and over 216
 MHz.
Digital signals less than and     13.1[micro]V/m.....                 30
 including 54 MHz, and over 216
 MHz.
Analog signals over 54 MHz up to  20[micro]V/m.......                  3
 and including 216 MHz.
Digital signals over 54 MHz up    17.4[micro]V/m.....                  3
 to and including 216 MHz.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Where analog NTSC or similar signals are measured in accordance 
with the procedures outlined in Sec.  76.609(h).
    (e) Cable television systems distributing signals by methods other 
than 6 MHz NTSC or similar analog channels or 6 MHz QAM or similar 
channels on conventional coaxial or hybrid fiber-coaxial cable systems 
and which, because of their basic design, cannot comply with one or 
more of the technical standards set forth in paragraphs (b) and (c) of 
this section, may be permitted to operate upon Commission approval on a 
case-by-case basis. To obtain Commission approval, the operator must 
submit to the Commission its own proof-of-performance plan for ensuring 
subscribers receive good quality signals.

    Note 1: Local franchising authorities of systems serving fewer 
than 1000 subscribers may adopt standards less stringent than those 
in Sec.  76.605(b) and (c). Any such agreement shall be reduced to 
writing and be associated with the system's proof-of-performance 
records.


    Note 2: For systems serving rural areas as defined in Sec.  
76.5, the system may negotiate with its local franchising authority 
for standards less stringent than those in Sec. Sec.  76.605(b)(3), 
76.605(b)(7), 76.605(b)(8), 76.605(b)(10) and 76.605(b)(11). Any 
such agreement shall be reduced to writing and be associated with 
the system's proof-of-performance records.


    Note 3: The requirements of this section shall not apply to 
devices subject to the TV interface device rules under part 15 of 
this chapter.


    Note 4:  Should subscriber complaints arise from a system 
failing to meet Sec.  76.605(b)(10), the cable operator will be 
required to remedy the complaint and perform test measurements on 
Sec.  76.605(b)(10) containing the full number of channels as 
indicated in Sec.  76.601(b)(2) at the complaining subscriber's 
terminal. Further, should the problem be found to be system-wide, 
the Commission may order that the full number of channels as 
indicated in Sec.  76.601(b)(2) be tested at all required locations 
for future proof-of-performance tests.


    Note 5: No State or franchising authority may prohibit, 
condition, or restrict a cable system's use of any type of 
subscriber equipment or any transmission technology.

    12. Revise Sec.  76.606 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.606  Closed captioning.

    (a) The operator of each cable television system shall not take any 
action to remove or alter closed captioning data contained on line 21 
of the vertical blanking interval.
    (b) The operator of each cable television system shall deliver 
intact closed captioning data contained on line 21 of the vertical 
blanking interval, as it arrives at the headend or from another 
origination source, to subscriber terminals and (when so delivered to 
the cable system) in a format that can be recovered and displayed by 
decoders meeting Sec.  79.101 of this chapter.
    13. Revise Sec.  76.610 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.610  Operation in the frequency bands 108-137 MHz and 225-400 
MHz--scope of application.

    The provisions of Sec. Sec.  76.605(d), 76.611, 76.612, 76.613, 
76.614, 76.616, 76.617, 76.1803 and 76.1804 are applicable to all MVPDs 
(cable and non-cable) transmitting analog carriers or other signal 
components carried at an average power level equal to or greater than 
10-4 watts across a 25 kHz bandwidth in any 160 microsecond 
period or transmitting digital carriers or other signal components at 
an average power level of 75.85 microwatts across a 25 kHz bandwidth in 
any 160 microsecond period at any point in the cable distribution 
system in the frequency bands 108-137 and 225-400 MHz for any purpose. 
Exception: Non-cable MVPDs serving less than 1000 subscribers and less 
than 1000 units do not have to comply with Sec.  76.1803.
    14. Revise Sec.  76.611(a)(1), (a)(2), and (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.611  Cable television basic signal leakage performance 
criteria.

    (a) * * *
    (1) prior to carriage of signals in the aeronautical radio bands 
and at least once each calendar year, with no more than 12 months 
between successive tests thereafter, based on a sampling of at least 
75% of the cable strand, and including any portion of the cable system 
which are known to have or can reasonably be expected to have less 
leakage integrity than the average of the system, the cable operator 
demonstrates compliance with a cumulative signal leakage index by 
showing either that (i) 10 log I3000 is equal to or less 
than -7 for analog systems and equal to or less than -8.2 for digital 
systems or (ii) 10 log I[infin] is equal to or less than 64 
for analog systems and equal to or less than 62.8 for digital systems, 
using one of the following formula, except that no system of diameter 
greater than 160 kilometers may utilize I3000:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP09OC12.000

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP09OC12.001

Where:
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP09OC12.002

ri is the distance (in meters) between the leakage source 
and the center of the cable television system;
[thgr] is the fraction of the system cable length actually examined 
for leakage sources and is equal to the strand kilometers (strand 
miles) of plant tested divided by

[[Page 61373]]

the total strand kilometers (strand miles) in the plant;
Ri is the slant height distance (in meters) from leakage 
source i to a point 3000 meters above the center of the cable 
television system;
Ei is the electric field strength in microvolts per meter 
([micro]V/m) measured 3 meters from the leak i; and
n is the number of leaks found of field strength equal to or greater 
than 50 [micro]V/m for analog leaks measured pursuant to Sec.  
76.609(h) or 43.6 [micro]V/m for digital leaks.

    The sum is carried over all leaks i detected in the cable examined; 
or
    (2) prior to carriage of signals in the aeronautical radio bands 
and at least once each calendar year, with no more than 12 months 
between successive tests thereafter, the cable operator demonstrates by 
measurement in the airspace that at no point does the field strength 
generated by the cable system exceed 10 microvolts per meter ([micro]V/
m) RMS for an offset analog signal or 8.7 microvolts per meter 
([micro]V/m) RMS for a digital signal at an altitude of 450 meters 
above the average terrain of the cable system. The measurement system 
(including the receiving antenna) shall be calibrated against a known 
field of 10 [micro]V/m RMS produced by a well characterized antenna 
consisting of orthogonal resonant dipoles, both parallel to and one 
quarter wavelength above the ground plane of a diameter of two meters 
or more at ground level. The dipoles shall have centers collocated and 
be excited 90 degrees apart. The half-power bandwidth of the detector 
shall be 25 kHz. If an aeronautical receiver is used for this purpose 
it shall meet the standards of the Radio Technical Commission for 
Aeronautics (RCTA) for aeronautical communications receivers. The 
aircraft antenna shall be horizontally polarized. Calibration shall be 
made in the community unit or, if more than one, in any of the 
community units of the physical system within a reasonable time period 
to performing the measurements. If data is recorded digitally the 90th 
percentile level of points recorded over the cable system shall not 
exceed 8.7 [micro]V/m or 10 [micro]V/m RMS as indicated above; if 
analog recordings is used the peak values of the curves, when smoothed 
according to good engineering practices, shall not exceed 8.7 [micro]V/
m or 10 [micro]V/m RMS for digital or analog leakage, respectively.
* * * * *
    (e) Prior to providing service to any subscriber on a new section 
of cable plant, the operator shall show compliance with either: (1) The 
basic signal leakage criteria in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) or 
(a)(2) of this section for the entire plant in operation or (2) a 
showing shall be made indicating that no individual leak in the new 
section of the plant exceeds 20 [micro]V/m at 3 meters in accordance 
with Sec.  76.609 of the rules for analog systems or 17.4 [micro]V/m at 
3 meters for digital systems.
* * * * *
    15. Revise Sec.  76.612 introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  76.612  Cable television frequency separation standards.

    All cable television systems which operate analog NTSC or similar 
channels in the frequency bands 108-137 MHZ and 225-400 MHz shall 
comply with the following frequency separation standards for each NTSC 
or similar channel:
* * * * *
    16. Revise Sec.  76.614 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.614  Cable television regular monitoring.

    Cable television operators transmitting carriers in the frequency 
bands 108-137 and 225-400 MHz shall provide for a program of regular 
monitoring for signal leakage by substantially covering the plant every 
three months. The incorporation of this monitoring program into the 
daily activities of existing service personnel in the discharge of 
their normal duties will generally cover all portions of the system and 
will therefore meet this requirement. Monitoring equipment and 
procedures utilized by a cable operator shall be adequate to detect a 
leakage source from an analog signal which produces a field strength in 
these bands of 20 [micro]V/m or greater at a distance of 3 meters and 
from a digital signal which produces a field strength in these bands of 
17.4 [micro]V/m or greater at a distance of 3 meters. During regular 
monitoring, any analog leakage source which produces a field strength 
of 20 [micro]V/m or greater at a distance of 3 meters or digital 
leakage source which produces a field strength of 17.4 [micro]V/m or 
greater at a distance of 3 meters in the aeronautical radio frequency 
bands shall be noted and such leakage sources shall be repaired within 
a reasonable period of time.

    Note 1 to Sec.  76.614: Section 76.1706 contains signal leakage 
recordkeeping requirements applicable to cable operators.

    17. Revise Sec.  76.640(b) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.640  Support for unidirectional digital cable products on 
digital cable systems.

* * * * *
    (b) Cable operators shall support unidirectional digital cable 
products, as defined in Sec.  15.123 of this chapter, through the 
provisioning of Point of Deployment modules (PODs) and services, as 
follows:
    (1) Digital cable systems with an activated channel capacity of 750 
MHz or greater shall comply with the following technical standards and 
requirements:
    (i) ANSI/SCTE 40 2011 (formerly DVS 313): ``Digital Cable Network 
Interface Standard'' (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  76.602), 
provided that the ``transit delay for most distant customer'' 
requirement in Table 4.3 is not mandatory.
    (ii) ANSI/SCTE 65 2008 (formerly DVS 234): ``Service Information 
Delivered Out-of-Band for Digital Cable Television'' (incorporated by 
reference, see Sec.  76.602), provided however that the referenced 
Source Name Subtable shall be provided for Profiles 1, 2, and 3.
    (iii) ANSI/SCTE 54 2009 (formerly DVS 241): ``Digital Video Service 
Multiplex and Transport System Standard for Cable Television'' 
(incorporated by reference, see Sec.  76.602).
    (iv) For each digital transport stream that includes one or more 
services carried in-the-clear, such transport stream shall include 
virtual channel data in-band in the form of ATSC A/65D: ``ATSC 
Standard: Program and System Information Protocol for Terrestrial 
Broadcast and Cable (Revision D)'' (incorporated by reference, see 
Sec.  76.602), when available from the content provider. With respect 
to in-band transport:
    (A) * * *
    (B) * * *
    (C) The format of event information data format shall conform to 
ATSC A/65D: ``ATSC Standard: Program and System Information Protocol 
for Terrestrial Broadcast and Cable (Revision D)'' (incorporated by 
reference, see Sec.  76.602);
    (D) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (v) * * *
    (A) * * *
    (B) A virtual channel table shall be provided via the extended 
channel interface from the POD module. Tables to be included shall 
conform to ANSI/SCTE 65 2008 (formerly DVS 234): ``Service Information 
Delivered Out-of-Band for Digital Cable Television'' (incorporated by 
reference, see Sec.  76.602).
    (C) Event information data when present shall conform to ANSI/SCTE 
65 2008 (formerly DVS 234): ``Service Information Delivered Out-of-Band 
for Digital Cable Television'' (incorporated

[[Page 61374]]

by reference, see Sec.  76.602) (profiles 4 or higher).
    (D) * * *
    (E) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) ANSI/SCTE 28 2012 (formerly DVS 295): ``Host-POD Interface 
Standard'' (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  76.602).
    (ii) SCTE 41 2011 (formerly DVS 301): ``POD Copy Protection 
System'' (incorporated by reference, see Sec.  76.602).
* * * * *
    18. Amend Sec.  76.1204 by revising paragraph (a), removing 
paragraph (e), and redesignating (f) as paragraph (e) and revising 
newly redesignated paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1204  Availability of equipment performing conditional access 
or security functions.

    (a)(1) A multichannel video programming distributor that utilizes 
navigation devices to perform conditional access functions shall make 
available equipment that incorporates only the conditional access 
functions of such devices. No multichannel video programming 
distributor subject to this section shall place in service new 
navigation devices for sale, lease, or use that perform both 
conditional access and other functions in a single integrated device.
* * * * *
    (e) Paragraphs (a)(1), (b), and (c) of this section shall not apply 
to the provision of any navigation device that:
    (1) Employs conditional access mechanisms only to access analog 
video programming;
    (2) Is capable only of providing access to analog video programming 
offered over a multichannel video programming distribution system; and
    (3) Does not provide access to any digital transmission of 
multichannel video programming or any other digital service through any 
receiving, decoding, conditional access, or other function, including 
any conversion of digital programming or service to an analog format.
    19. Revise Sec.  76.1205(b) introductory text and paragraph (b)(5) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1205  CableCARD support.

* * * * *
    (b) A multichannel video programming provider that is subject to 
the requirements of Sec.  76.640 must:
* * * * *
    (5) Separately disclose to consumers in a conspicuous manner with 
written information provided to customers in accordance with Sec.  
76.1602, with written or oral information at consumer request, and on 
Web sites or billing inserts;
    (i) Any assessed fees for the rental of single and additional 
CableCARDs and the rental of operator-supplied navigation devices; and,
    (ii) If such provider includes equipment in the price of a bundled 
offer of one or more services, the fees reasonably allocable to:
    (A) The rental of single and additional CableCARDs; and
    (B) The rental of operator-supplied navigation devices.
    (iii) CableCARD rental fees shall be priced uniformly throughout a 
cable system by such provider without regard to the intended use in 
operator-supplied or consumer-owned equipment. No service fee shall be 
imposed on a subscriber for support of a subscriber-provided device 
that is not assessed on subscriber use of an operator-provided device.
    (iv) For any bundled offer combining service and an operator-
supplied navigation device into a single fee, including any bundled 
offer providing a discount for the purchase of multiple services, such 
provider shall make such offer available without discrimination to any 
customer that owns a navigation device, and, to the extent the customer 
uses such navigation device in lieu of the operator-supplied equipment 
included in that bundled offer, shall further offer such customer a 
discount from such offer equal to an amount not less than the monthly 
rental fee reasonably allocable to the lease of the operator-supplied 
navigation device included with that offer. For purposes of this 
section, in determining what is ``reasonably allocable,'' the 
Commission will consider in its evaluation whether the allocation is 
consistent with one or more of the following factors:
    (A) An allocation determination approved by a local, state, or 
Federal government entity;
    (B)The monthly lease fee as stated on the cable system rate card 
for the navigation device when offered by the cable operator separately 
from a bundled offer; and
    (C) The actual cost of the navigation device amortized over a 
period of no more than 60 months.
* * * * *
    20. Revise Sec.  76.1508 (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1508  Network non-duplication.

    (a) Sections 76.92 through 76.95 shall apply to open video systems 
in accordance with the provisions contained in this section.
* * * * *
    21. Revise Sec.  76.1509 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1509  Syndicated program exclusivity.

    (a) Sections 76.101 through 76.110 shall apply to open video 
systems in accordance with the provisions contained in this section.
    (b) Any provision of Sec.  76.101 that refers to a ``cable 
community unit'' shall apply to an open video system.
    (c) Any provision of Sec.  76.105 that refers to a ``cable system 
operator'' or ``cable television system operator'' shall apply to an 
open video system operator. Any provision of Sec.  76.105 that refers 
to a ``cable system'' or ``cable television system'' shall apply to an 
open video system except Sec.  76.105(c) which shall apply to an open 
video system operator. Open video system operators shall make all 
notifications and information regarding exercise of syndicated program 
exclusivity rights immediately available to all appropriate video 
programming provider on the system. An open video system operator shall 
not be subject to sanctions for any violation of these rules by an 
unaffiliated program supplier if the operator provided proper notices 
to the program supplier and subsequently took prompt steps to stop the 
distribution of the infringing program once it was notified of a 
violation.
    (d) Any provision of Sec.  76.106 that refers to a ``cable 
community'' shall apply to an open video system community. Any 
provision of Sec.  76.106 that refers to a ``cable community unit'' or 
``community unit'' shall apply to an open video system or that portion 
of an open video system that operates or will operate within a separate 
and distinct community or municipal entity (including unincorporated 
communities within unincorporated areas and including single, discrete 
unincorporated areas). Any provision of Sec. Sec.  76.106 through 
76.108 that refers to a ``cable system'' shall apply to an open video 
system.
    (e) Any provision of Sec.  76.109 that refers to ``cable 
television'' or a ``cable system'' shall apply to an open video system.
    (f) Any provision of Sec.  76.110 that refers to a ``community 
unit'' shall apply to an open video system or that portion of an open 
video system that is affected by this rule.
    22. Revise Sec.  76.1510 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1510  Application of certain Title VI provisions.

    The following sections within part 76 shall also apply to open 
video systems: Sec. Sec.  76.71, 76.73, 76.75, 76.77, 76.79,

[[Page 61375]]

76.1702, and 76.1802 (Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements); 
Sec. Sec.  76.503 and 76.504 (ownership restrictions); Sec.  76.981 
(negative option billing); and Sec. Sec.  76.1300, 76.1301 and 76.1302 
(regulation of carriage agreements); Sec.  76.610 (signal leakage 
restrictions); provided, however, that these sections shall apply to 
open video systems only to the extent that they do not conflict with 
this subpart S. Section 631 of the Communications Act (subscriber 
privacy) shall also apply to open video systems.
    23. Revise Sec.  76.1601 to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1601  Deletion or repositioning of broadcast signals.

    A cable operator shall provide written notice to any broadcast 
television station at least 30 days prior to either deleting from 
carriage or repositioning that station. Such notification shall also be 
provided to subscribers of the cable system.

    Note 1 to Sec.  76.1601: No deletion or repositioning of a local 
commercial television station shall occur during a period in which 
major television ratings services measure the size of audiences of 
local television stations. For this purpose, such periods are the 
four national four-week ratings periods--generally including 
February, May, July and November--commonly known as audience sweeps.

    24. Revise Sec.  76.1602(b) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1602  Customer service--general information.

* * * * *
    (b) The cable operator shall provide written information on each of 
the following areas at the time of installation of service, at least 
annually to all subscribers, and at any time upon request:
* * * * *


Sec.  76.1610  [Amended]

    25. Amend Sec.  76.1610 by removing paragraphs (f) and (g).
    26. Revise Sec.  76.1701(d) to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1701  Political file.

* * * * *
    (d) Where origination cablecasting material is a political matter 
or matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public 
importance and a corporation, committee, association or other 
unincorporated group, or other entity is paying for or furnishing the 
matter, the system operator shall, in addition to making the 
announcement required by Sec.  76.1615, require that a list of the 
chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of 
the board of directors of the corporation, committee, association or 
other unincorporated group, or other entity shall be made available for 
public inspection at the local office of the system. Such lists shall 
be kept and made available for two years.
    27. Revise Sec.  76.1804 section heading and introductory paragraph 
to read as follows:


Sec.  76.1804  Aeronautical frequencies notification.

    An MVPD shall notify the Commission before transmitting any carrier 
of other signal component with an average power level across a 30 kHz 
bandwidth in any 2.5 millisecond time period equal to or greater than 
10-5 watts at any point in the cable distribution system on 
any new frequency or frequencies in the aeronautical radio frequency 
bands (108-137 MHz, 225-400 MHz). The notification shall be made on FCC 
Form 321. Such notification shall include:
* * * * *


Sec.  76.1909  [Removed]

    28. Remove Sec.  76.1909.

[FR Doc. 2012-24641 Filed 10-5-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P