A random sampling of cable operators will be receiving survey forms from the Federal Communications Commission and have until July 27 to supply cable service and equipment pricing information.
The FCC is required by the 1992 Cable Act to publish an average rate for service and equipment. In addition, the commission collects data on the number of channels offered in each service, what advanced services, including Internet access, are available, and whether there is a so-called "family tier" offered.
The survey actually includes two random samples, one of operators where the FCC has granted effective competition petitions -- meaning basic rates have been deregulated -- and a sample of other communities, where such petitions have not been granted. The Cable Act also requires the FCC to compare the rates in each group.
In addition to being published in aggregate form, the information is also subject to FOIA requests, so the FCC advises operators that if they want to keep it confidential, they need to ask for it in writing and need to explain why it is necessary.