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Naum Aksenov
Naum Aksenov

Buy Individual Cable Channels


A: In general, a cable television operator has the right to select the channels and services that are available on its cable system. With the exception of certain channels, such as local broadcast television channels, that are required to be carried by federal law, the cable operator has broad discretion in choosing the channels that will be available and how those channels will be packaged and marketed to subscribers. In order to maximize the number of subscribers, the cable operator selects channels that are likely to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.




buy individual cable channels


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A: Yes, in most cases. In general, cable companies are required to offer a basic service tier and all subscribers must purchase this tier before purchasing any other video programming. The basic service tier is required to include, at a minimum, the local broadcast television stations carried on the system and all of the public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access channels that the operator may be required to include pursuant to an agreement with the local government. After complying with these minimum requirements, the cable operator may offer additional programming as part of the basic service tier.


A: Typically, with the exception of programming that is required to be carried on the basic tier, the cable operator and the entity that owns the channel or programming service may negotiate the terms and conditions that will govern the carriage of the channel or service on the cable system. This negotiation may include whether the channel or service will be offered in a package with other programming or whether the channel or service will be offered on a per-channel or pay-per-view basis.


A: Not in all cases. The tier buy-through provision only applies to programming offered on a per-channel or per-program basis. For example, if a movie channel, such as HBO, is marketed as a per-channel service, the cable operator cannot require a subscriber to purchase any tier of service (other than the basic tier) in order to receive the HBO service.


A: Yes. Because the tier buy-through prohibition only applies to programming offered on a per-channel or per-program basis, programming, such as MTV and CNN, that is available only as part of a tier, is not subject to the tier buy-through prohibition. Thus, a cable operator is not required to make these services available on an a la carte basis and the operator may require that a subscriber purchase one or more tiers of programming in order to have access to other tiers of programming.


A: No. These services are offered if the cable operator elects to do so. Cable operators, as well as other entities that offer video programming services to subscribers, such as satellite television providers, continue to have broad discretion to determine if services are offered on a per-channel or pay-per-view basis and how programming will be packaged and marketed to consumers.


A: No. The requirements of the tier buy-through provision only apply to cable television system operators that are not subject to effective competition or that have not obtained a waiver from the Commission. It does not apply to other entities, such as satellite television companies, which distribute multichannel video programming services to subscribers.


The Federal Communications Commission first established rules in 1965 for cable systems which received signals by microwave antennas. In 1966, the Commission established rules for all cable systems (whether or not served by microwave). The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's jurisdiction over cable in United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968). The Court ruled that "the Commission has reasonably concluded that regulatory authority over CATV is imperative if it is to perform with appropriate effectiveness certain of its responsibilities." The Court found the Commission needed authority over cable systems to assure the preservation of local broadcast service and to effect an equitable distribution of broadcast services among the various regions of the country.


In 1972, new rules regarding cable television became effective. These rules required cable television operators to obtain a certificate of compliance from the Commission prior to operating a cable television system or adding a television broadcast signal. The rules applicable to cable operators fell into several broad subject areas -- franchise standards, signal carriage, network program nonduplication and syndicated program exclusivity, nonbroadcast or cablecasting services, cross-ownership, equal employment opportunity, and technical standards. Cable television operators who originated programming were subject to equal time, sponsorship identification and other provisions similar to rules applicable to broadcasters. Cable operators were also required to maintain certain records and to file annual reports with the Commission concerning general statistics, employment, and finances.


In succeeding years, the Commission modified or eliminated many of the rules. Among the more significant actions, the Commission deleted most of the franchise standards in 1977, substituted a registration process for the certificate of compliance application process in 1978, and eliminated the distant signal carriage restrictions and syndicated program exclusivity rules in 1980. In 1983, the Commission deleted its requirement that cable operators file financial information. In addition, court actions led to the deletion of pay cable programming rules in 1977.


In October 1984, the U.S. Congress amended the Communications Act of 1934 by adopting the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984. The 1984 Cable Act established policies in the areas of ownership, channel usage, franchise provisions and renewals, subscriber rates and privacy, obscenity and lockboxes, unauthorized reception of services, equal employment opportunity, and pole attachments. The new law also defined jurisdictional boundaries among federal, state and local authorities for regulating cable television systems.


Following the 1984 Cable Act, the number of households subscribing to cable television systems increased, as did the channel capacity of many cable systems. However, competition among distributors of cable services did not increase, and, in many communities, the rates for cable services far outpaced inflation. Responding to these problems, Congress enacted the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. The 1992 Cable Act mandated a number of changes in the manner in which cable television is regulated.


In adopting the 1992 Cable Act, Congress stated that it wanted to promote the availability of diverse views and information, to rely on the marketplace to the maximum extent possible to achieve that availability, to ensure cable operators continue to expand their capacity and program offerings, to ensure cable operators do not have undue market power, and to ensure consumer interests are protected in the receipt of cable service. The Commission has adopted regulations to implement these goals.


Cable television is a video delivery service provided by a cable operator to subscribers via a coaxial cable or fiber optics. Programming delivered without a wire via satellite or other facilities is not "cable television" under the Commission's definitions.


A cable television system operator is any person or group of persons who provides cable service over a cable system and directly or through one or more affiliates owns a significant interest in such cable system, or who otherwise controls or is responsible for, through any arrangement, the management and operation of such a cable system.


A cable system is a facility, consisting of a set of closed transmission paths and associated signal generation, reception, and control equipment that is designed to provide cable service which includes video programming and which is provided to multiple subscribers within a community. This term does not include:


(3) a facility of a common carrier which is subject in whole or in part, to the provisions of Title II of the Communications Act, except that such facility shall be considered a cable system to the extent such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers, unless the extent of such use is solely to provide interactive on demand services;


Cable services are often provided in tiers. A tier is a category of cable service or services provided by a cable operator for which a separate rate is charged by the cable operator. There are three types of cable service: basic service, cable programming service, and per-channel or per-program (sometimes called pay-per-view) service.


Basic service is the lowest level of cable service a subscriber can buy. It includes, at a minimum, all over-the-air television broadcast signals carried pursuant to the must-carry requirements of the Communications Act, and any public, educational, or government access channels required by the system's franchise agreement. It may include additional signals chosen by the operator. Basic service is generally regulated by the local franchising authority (the local or state entity empowered by Federal, State, or local law to grant a franchise to a cable company to operate in a given area).


Cable programming service includes all program channels on the cable system that are not included in basic service, but are not separately offered as per-channel or per-program services. Pursuant to a 1996 federal law, the rates charged for cable programming services tiers provided after March 31, 1999 are not regulated. There may be one or more tiers of cable programming service.


Per-channel or per-program service includes those cable services that are provided as single-channel tiers by the cable operator, and individual programs for which the cable operator charges a separate rate Neither of these services is regulated by the local franchising authorities or the Commission. 041b061a72


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