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At FCC, discussion of cable rate regulation implementation drags on.

Additional funding for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) included in the FY 1993 supplemental appropriations bill, has caused a congressional stir over the October 1, 1993 implementation date of rate regulation and customer service standards under the new Cable Act. Some members of Congress are calling for an earlier start up date now that additional funding has been approved for the Commission.

The FCC had originally scheduled the implementation of rate regulation and customer service standards for June 21st of this year, then delayed action until October 1st because it lacked funding for the massive project--which included the development, mailout and administration of rate regulation certification forms for cities.

When $11.5 million in supplemental FY 1993 was funds appropriated for the FCC last week, House Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee chair, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), called upon the agency to begin implementation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 prior to the recently imposed October deadline. Markey wants the implementation date moved up to September 1.

Markey said last week that delaying implementation until October 1st "will cost consumers $250 million" and said it was important that the Commission move "quickly, decisively, and unequivocally.

Local government franchising authorities should also be concerned that implementation of these regulations begin as soon as possible. The certification process takes thirty days from the time the FCC receives the certification form--and the FCC's rate freeze ends on November 15th. Cities will want to be in a position to regulate rates before cable operators are free to raise them again on that November date.

For now, the actual date cities can begin to apply for certification remains October 1st--while the debate over this issue is certain to continue. Although many Members of Congress agree with Markey, there are still some, such as Markey's boss, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce full committee, who strongly support the FCC's current October 1 start date.

Any change in the date for cable rate regulation and customer service standards implementation will be printed in Nation's Cities Weekly. To obtain a summary of the 1992 Cable Act, or to order the regulations themselves, call NLC's Cable Hotline at (202) 626-3182.
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Title Annotation:Federal Communications Commission
Author:Ferrera, Anna Pulido
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jul 19, 1993
Words:369
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