(a) Operators may establish a category of CPSTs, referred to as “new product tiers” (“NPTs”), and offer these tiers to subscribers at prices they elect.
(b) In order to be eligible to offer NPTs, cable operators must meet the following conditions:
(1) Operators offering NPTs are prohibited from making fundamental changes to what they offer on their BSTs and CPSTs offerings on September 30, 1994. Operators may drop channels or move channels between BSTs and/or CPSTs or to an a la carte offering so long as the aggregation of such changes do not constitute a fundamental change in their BST or CPSTs.
(2) Operators may not drop channels that were offered on their BSTs or CPSTs on September 30, 1994 and move them to NPTs unless they wait at least two years from the date the channels were dropped from the BSTs or CPSTs. Time shifted versions, slightly altered versions or renamed versions of channels offered on BSTs and CPSTs on September 30, 1994 shall not be exempt from this restriction.
(3) Operators must market their BSTs and CPSTs so that customers should be reasonably aware that:
(i) Those tiers are being offered to the public;
(ii) The names of the channels available on those tiers; and
(iii) The price of the tiers. A subscriber may not be charged for an NPT unless the cable operator has obtained the subscriber's affirmative consent. Changes to the fundamental nature of an NPT must be approved by subscribers in accordance with § 76.981.
(4) Operators may not require the subscription to any tier, other than a BST, as a condition for subscribing to an NPT and operators may not require subscription to an NPT as a condition for subscribing to a CPST. These restrictions will not apply to cable operators prior to October 5, 2002, if such operators lack the capacity to offer BSTs and NPTs without also providing other intermediate tiers of service as provided in § 76.900(c).
(c) Operators may offer the same service on NPTs as are on one or more BSTs or CPSTs. A channel that occupied a CPST or BST part-time on September 30, 1994 also may be offered full-time on an NPT as long as it continues to be offered at least part-time on CPST or BST, under substantially the same conditions as before it was offered on the NPT. If a channel occupies a BST or CPST (regulated pursuant to § 76.922) full-time on September 30, 1994, and is subsequently reduced to part-time on the BST or CPST, that channel may not be offered on an NPT full-time. Operators that offer a channel both on an NPT and a BST or CPST will have a continuing obligation to ensure that subscribers are aware that the channels are available on the CPST or BST.
(d) Operators may temporarily place new channels on CPSTs for marketing purposes and then move them to NPTs. In order for an operator to move a channel from a CPST to an NPT pursuant to this paragraph, the channel must not have been offered on a BST or CPST prior to October 1, 1994.
(e) After initially electing to offer an NPT, a cable operator may cease to provide the NPT, upon proper notice to subscribers pursuant to § 76.1603. If an operator drops an NPT and subsequently determines to reestablish that tier, at the time of the reestablishment it must comply with the conditions for offering NPTs set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.
(f) If the Commission receives a complaint about an NPT, the operator need not file the rate justification provided in § 76.956, but shall within the time period provided by that rule file documentation that the NPT meets all the conditions set forth in this section.