FCC Extends Deadline for Cable Ops to Appeal Martin-Era Fines

Commission also sets aside some reporting deadlines related to channel migration complaints

The FCC under acting Chairman Michael Copps, has provided some aid and comfort to cable operators after the parting shot fired by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin as he was heading out the door Jan. 19.

Martin closed out his chairmanship of the FCC with hundreds of thousands of dollars in proposed fines against cable operators for failing to provide sufficient information to the commission in its investigation of the migration of channels from analog to digital, changing rates without sufficient notice, and more.

Hit with the fines were a who's who of cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, Charter, Cox, Comcast, Bright House, and Harron.

Martin had given the operators 30 days to either pay or appeal the fines.

The FCC, without comment, Tuesday extended that deadline to March 20 and suspended or set aside a couple of reporting deadlines related to the complaints. AN FCC spokesman was unavailable for comment on why the deadlines were extended.

The initial FCC investigations were in response to complaints from Consumers Union and others that operators were migrating channels from analog to digital without lowering the price of the analog tier and in some cases raising it. Martin said in the letter that the FCC had gotten almost 600 complaints from cable subscribers. Martin called the practice "unacceptable."

Cable operators have been trying to get their customers to move to digital to free up bandwidth for advanced services, including migrating channels.