NCTA Wants Filing Optional

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Washington-The National Cable Television Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to keep electronic filing optional last Wednesday.

The NCTA raised concerns in public comments filed with the FCC about its proposed cable-licensing system to allow operators to submit television-operator registrations, aeronautical-frequency-usage forms and applications for the Cable Television Relay Service online.

The FCC will phase in the Cable Operations and Licensing System (COALS) to "enhance the availability of cable-system information to the cable industry and the public." According to agency sources, the commission expects electronic filing to eventually be mandatory.

There are "very small operators that may find a mandatory electronic-filing requirement unduly burdensome," the NCTA said, noting that the smallest cable systems often serve rural areas and have limited finances.

The organization urged the FCC to allow cable operators to choose whether they submit forms electronically, saying COALS would result in "significant benefits" for the agency, operators, consumers and the public, who will be able to view filed documents "with the press of a button and without charge."

Optional electronic filing would ensure a smooth transition to the new system, bringing COALS in line with other FCC decisions to adopt online filing systems, the NCTA added.

The public filing period ended last Wednesday. Reply comments are due on or before Sept. 21. No other public comments on COALS are available.

States News Service

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