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47 U.S. Code § 573 - Establishment of open video systems

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(a) Open video systems
(1) Certificates of compliance

A local exchange carrier may provide cable service to its cable service subscribers in its telephone service area through an open video system that complies with this section. To the extent permitted by such regulations as the Commission may prescribe consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, an operator of a cable system or any other person may provide video programming through an open video system that complies with this section. An operator of an open video system shall qualify for reduced regulatory burdens under subsection (c) of this section if the operator of such system certifies to the Commission that such carrier complies with the Commission’s regulations under subsection (b) and the Commission approves such certification. The Commission shall publish notice of the receipt of any such certification and shall act to approve or disapprove any such certification within 10 days after receipt of such certification.

(2) Dispute resolution

The Commission shall have the authority to resolve disputes under this section and the regulations prescribed thereunder. Any such dispute shall be resolved within 180 days after notice of such dispute is submitted to the Commission. At that time or subsequently in a separate damages proceeding, the Commission may, in the case of any violation of this section, require carriage, award damages to any person denied carriage, or any combination of such sanctions. Any aggrieved party may seek any other remedy available under this chapter.

(b) Commission actions
(1) Regulations requiredWithin 6 months after February 8, 1996, the Commission shall complete all actions necessary (including any reconsideration) to prescribe regulations that—
except as required pursuant to section 531, 534, or 535 of this title, prohibit an operator of an open video system from discriminating among video programming providers with regard to carriage on its open video system, and ensure that the rates, terms, and conditions for such carriage are just and reasonable, and are not unjustly or unreasonably discriminatory;
if demand exceeds the channel capacity of the open video system, prohibit an operator of an open video system and its affiliates from selecting the video programming services for carriage on more than one-third of the activated channel capacity on such system, but nothing in this subparagraph shall be construed to limit the number of channels that the carrier and its affiliates may offer to provide directly to subscribers;
permit an operator of an open video system to carry on only one channel any video programming service that is offered by more than one video programming provider (including the local exchange carrier’s video programming affiliate): Provided, That subscribers have ready and immediate access to any such video programming service;
extend to the distribution of video programming over open video systems the Commission’s regulations concerning sports exclusivity (47 C.F.R. 76.67), network nonduplication (47 C.F.R. 76.92 et seq.), and syndicated exclusivity (47 C.F.R. 76.151 et seq.); and
prohibit an operator of an open video system from unreasonably discriminating in favor of the operator or its affiliates with regard to material or information (including advertising) provided by the operator to subscribers for the purposes of selecting programming on the open video system, or in the way such material or information is presented to subscribers;
require an operator of an open video system to ensure that video programming providers or copyright holders (or both) are able suitably and uniquely to identify their programming services to subscribers;
if such identification is transmitted as part of the programming signal, require the carrier to transmit such identification without change or alteration; and
prohibit an operator of an open video system from omitting television broadcast stations or other unaffiliated video programming services carried on such system from any navigational device, guide, or menu.
(2) Consumer access

Subject to the requirements of paragraph (1) and the regulations thereunder, nothing in this section prohibits a common carrier or its affiliate from negotiating mutually agreeable terms and conditions with over-the-air broadcast stations and other unaffiliated video programming providers to allow consumer access to their signals on any level or screen of any gateway, menu, or other program guide, whether provided by the carrier or its affiliate.

(c) Reduced regulatory burdens for open video systems
(1) In generalAny provision that applies to a cable operator under—
sections 533 (other than subsection (a) thereof), 536, 543(f), 548, 551, and 554 of this title, shall apply,
sections 531, 534, and 535 of this title, and section 325 of this title, shall apply in accordance with the regulations prescribed under paragraph (2), and
sections 532 and 537 of this title, and parts III and IV of this subchapter (other than sections 543(f), 548, 551, and 554 of this title), shall not apply,
to any operator of an open video system for which the Commission has approved a certification under this section.
(2) Implementation
(A) Commission action

In the rulemaking proceeding to prescribe the regulations required by subsection (b)(1), the Commission shall, to the extent possible, impose obligations that are no greater or lesser than the obligations contained in the provisions described in paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection. The Commission shall complete all action (including any reconsideration) to prescribe such regulations no later than 6 months after February 8, 1996.

(B) Fees

An operator of an open video system under this part may be subject to the payment of fees on the gross revenues of the operator for the provision of cable service imposed by a local franchising authority or other governmental entity, in lieu of the franchise fees permitted under section 542 of this title. The rate at which such fees are imposed shall not exceed the rate at which franchise fees are imposed on any cable operator transmitting video programming in the franchise area, as determined in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission. An operator of an open video system may designate that portion of a subscriber’s bill attributable to the fee under this subparagraph as a separate item on the bill.

(3) Regulatory streamlining

With respect to the establishment and operation of an open video system, the requirements of this section shall apply in lieu of, and not in addition to, the requirements of subchapter II.

(4) Treatment as cable operator

Nothing in this chapter precludes a video programming provider making use of an open video system from being treated as an operator of a cable system for purposes of section 111 of title 17.

(d) “Telephone service area” defined

For purposes of this section, the term “telephone service area” when used in connection with a common carrier subject in whole or in part to subchapter II of this chapter means the area within which such carrier is offering telephone exchange service.

(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title VI, § 653, as added Pub. L. 104–104, title III, § 302(a), Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 121.)
Editorial Notes
References in Text

This chapter, referred to in subsecs. (a)(2) and (c)(4), was in the original “this Act”, meaning act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, known as the Communications Act of 1934, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 609 of this title and Tables.