FCC Approves Email Delivery of Cable Notices

Rosenworcel dissents from letting cable ops opt out of putting rate changes on paper bills
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Over some objection from lone Democrat commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC has voted to approve a Report and Order that allows cable operators to provide more information to their subs via email rather than in bills and other paper form.

The FCC voted to allow cable ops to send to subs with verified email addresses notifications of channel deletions, service changes, contact info for local franchise authorities, charges for various services, service changes and info about basic tier and broadcast signal availability.

The FCC last week issued a declaratory ruling that some annual notices could be by e-mail and the vote Thursday (Nov. 15) extended that to the other information. It would also allow a cable operator to respond to sub requests or complaints via email if either the complaint or request was made by email or the sub expressed a preference for an emailed response.

Subs will have a chance to opt out of electronic delivery and stick with paper.

The FCC also voted on a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking info on whether the FCC should consider allowing other types of electronic notification including texts and apps.

Rosenworcel said she had no trouble with allowing for email delivery of signal quality complaint procedures or LFA contact info or a list of channels accessible without a converter box, but said allowing for rate changes to be by email could mean a rate increase could get lost in an inbox or to a spam filter. She said that was not acceptable and dissented from that part of the item.

She also pointed out that not a single consumer was on record in the proceeding, and as a consumer she was going to record her disapproval.

FCC chair Ajit Pai said providing the electronic option for a panoply of legal notice was a simple, commonsense, efficient and environmentally friendly step providing with broad support.

"We welcome today’s common sense decision by the FCC to permit cable operators to deliver notices to their customers electronically rather than sending bulky and wasteful paper mailings," said NCTA-The Internet & Television Association. "This flexibility will benefit the environment as well as enabling consumers to more readily access accurate information. We thank the Commission for its continuing efforts to modernize its cable service rules.”

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