FCC Mails Revised Form 325 – "Annual Report of Cable Television Systems"
The FCC has issued a Public Notice announcing that on July 16, 2003, it mailed to cable operators the “Annual Report of Cable Television Systems” (FCC Form 325). The Form 325 is to be completed and returned by cable systems receiving the form, within 60 days after receipt. This marks the first time the Form 325 has been mailed since 1994 and since the FCC revised the old form in an order issued in 1999. NCTA and several cable MSOs had filed comments with the FCC advocating the elimination of the Form altogether.
The revised form requires significantly more detailed information than the old form, but from a reduced universe of cable systems. In accordance with the amended FCC rules, copies of the form have been sent to all cable systems that serve 20,000 or more subscribers and to a random sample of systems serving less than 20,000 subscribers. All other systems with less than 20,000 subscribers will have no reporting requirements this year. In its order revising the Form 325, the Commission estimated that it would need to send out and review only approximately 1,100 forms, as compared to its former practice of mailing and reviewing nearly 11,000 forms.
Some of the key modifications to the Form 325 are described below:
- Among the new categories of information requested are: length of coaxial cable (km); length of fiber optic cable (km); number of fiber nodes; average subscribers served per node; and the number of telephone subscribers; number of cable modem subscribers; number of leased modems deployed; and system cluster data. The Form also requires detailed information regarding the number of leased analog, digital and hybrid set-top boxes.
- Much of the signal distribution data is similar to the information required in the past. New categories of information, however, include digital video channel capacity, the number of digital channels carried, and a specification of all channels carried in satisfaction of the various legal requirements applicable to cable systems (i.e. - must carry; retransmission consent; public, educational or governmental access; and leased access). The Form will also require identification of tiers of service.
- Information will be collected on a Physical System Identification Number (“PSID”) basis. The earlier version of the Form 325 collected information on both a Community Unit Identification Number basis as well as a PSID basis.
- As in the past, the General Information section seeks information regarding the number of subscribers, potential subscribers and homes passed.
The FCC states in its Public Notice that the form solicits operational data from system operators that is intended to provide the Commission with “core information” that is needed to perform its regulatory functions. It also states that the information collected will be available to the public through its Cable Operations and Licensing System when that system is implemented.
The Form 325 assumes that the information provided does not contain data that should be treated as confidential. However, if operators wish to designate any information on the Form as proprietary, they must submit a request pursuant to 47 C.F.R. § 0.459 as an exhibit to the Form and state to which fields the request applies. The instructions to the Form provide a reminder that “casual requests will not be considered.”
If you have further questions about the Form 325 or require assistance in completing the form, please contact us.