Information for Consumers - Cable

Rates and Programming

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) does not regulate cable television rates. However, under state and federal law, the PUC may regulate fees used to pay for the operation of channels providing public, governmental, and educational (PEG) access. The PUC also regulates customer service issues, including service quality, reliability, and signal quality; as well as rates for items such as late fees, returned check charges, deposits, and disconnections. Neither the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nor the PUC have the authority to regulate cable television programming content. Cable television companies have broad discretion as to what channels they will provide and how they package those channels in the plans they offer to consumers. For information about cable television regulation, please see PUC Rule 8.000.

Antennas and Digital Programming

You may be able to take advantage of free over-the-air digital broadcasting with a well-installed, proper antenna for your situation. The FCC’s guide, Antennas and Digital Television, provides information about TV antennas and tips for obtaining good quality reception of digital broadcasts. To see if this is an option for you, check what signals are available where you live, by using the FCC's DTV reception maps.

Line Extensions and Service Cost

For some consumers, getting service is a simple matter of asking the service provider to drop or string a line from the pole at the street down to your house at no charge. However, for others getting service may mean paying to construct a line extension.

The PUC has established a specific formula that is used to determine whether someone's location falls within the density requirements under which a line extension would be built without any customer cost, or contribution-in-aid-of-construction (CIAC). If your location falls within this density zone, then the cable company will build whatever lines, poles, etc., are needed to bring service to your location at no CIAC cost to you.

However, many locations do not fall within the density zone and these consumers requesting cable service must contribute toward the costs of line-extension construction. If others in your neighborhood commit to also subscribing to service that this line extension would make possible, then the costs would be shared among you and your neighbors. Contact your cable service company and ask for a preliminary estimate. The company will provide an estimate and advise you about CIAC requirements.

Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Access

Public, Educational, and Governmental Access, or “PEG Access,” refers to the one or more channels on every cable television system's basic tier that must be made available for local programming, originating with local government, educational institutions, or members of the public. For additional information about PEG Access, see the Public Access page.

Consumer Guides

The FCC publishes consumer guides about broadcast, satellite and cable television at its Consumer Help Center.