Problems with Cable Operators

Basically, decisions concerning what services to offer and most other programming decisions are within the discretion of the cable operator. The FCC is powerless to address most complaints against cable companies other than specific violations concerning indecent programming, the limit on the number of commercials aired during children’s programming, and the rules involving candidates for public office.

To meet the requests for “family-friendly” programming, cable and satellite companies have begun voluntarily to make changes in their offerings. In December 2005, FCC chair Kevin J. Martin announced that some cable companies may “respond to consumer demand and begin to voluntarily offer family tiers.” Early in 2006, satellite provider DirecTV announced that it would offer a family package that included 40 channels providing children’s programming, educational programming, and public interest channels.

Interference is occasionally a problem for cable subscribers. One common source of interference is home electronics equipment. To receive the clearest signals, the equipment must be adequately designed with circuitry or filtering technologies that reject unwanted signals emitted from nearby transmitters. The FCC recommends that users contact the manufacturer and/or the store where the equipment was purchased to resolve the interference problem.

If users have a complaint about cable rates or poor service, they should direct their communication to their local franchise authority. A franchising authority is the municipal, county, or other government organization that regulates certain aspects of the cable television industry at the local or state level. There are approximately 30,000 franchising authorities in the United States. The name of the franchising authority is often found on the front or back of a cable bill. If the name of the franchising authority is not on the bill, users can contact their cable company or their local town or city hall.


Inside Problems with Cable Operators