FCC: Here's Buy-Through Data


Washington— The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday posted to its Web site (www.fcc.gov) a fact sheet related to the ability of cable consumers to buy premium programming without having to purchase more than the basic tier.

The three-page form, presented in question-and-answer format, explained that under what's called the tier buy-through rule, cable subscribers do not have to subscribe to more than the basic tier in order to subscribe to premium networks, such as Home Box Office and Showtime, and pay-per-view events.

The FCC noted that cable operators certified by the agency as subject to effective competition under of the 1992 Cable Act are not covered by the tier buy-through prohibition.

The tier buy-through rule became effective Oct. 5, 2002.

The commission received numerous calls from subscribers and journalists after some media reported that the tier buy-through prohibition was a quick and easy way for cable subscribers to cut their monthly bills.

As expected, the FCC reiterated a previous ruling, which held that premium networks that sell themselves on a multiplex basis remain premium, services and are not to be considered tiers not covered by the buy-through prohibition.

FCC sources said the fact sheet also confirmed that cable operators that move premium services from analog to digital transmission may require consumers to obtain digital converters, but may not require the purchase of digital programming tiers.