FCC: Cable subs should know rights


Although the Supreme Court ruled that cable operators don't have to notify subscribers of their right not to receive channels they don't subscribe to, the FCC is encouraging operators to tell them anyway, and "on a regular basis."

In an advisory to the industry Thursday on the scrambling issue, the Cable Services Bureau suggested using a bill insert, mailing or "any other reasonable form of written communication." The bureau also said it expects operators to respond to consumer signal-bleed complaints within seven days.

Signal bleed is when some portion of an inadequately scrambled channel's audio or video can be seen by a viewer who does not subscribe to that channel. The issue focuses primarily on adult channels, for obvious reasons.

Not taking any chances, the FCC also posted a fact sheet on its Web site Thursday and will otherwise spread the word to consumers about their channel-blocking rights and provide other tips on how to "prevent the viewing of objectionable programming."

Those tips include a lockbox, which a subscriber can use to lock out cable channels, and the V-chip blocking technology mandated in all new TVs. - John Eggerton