There seems to be general agreement that it’s desirable to have more accurate numbers on video service availability, but small cable operators are complaining that the Federal Communications Commission’s new requirements for historical data are burdensome to comply with.

The American Cable Association (ACA) has petitioned the FCC to exempt cable systems with 20,000 subscribers or fewer from some aspects of the FCC's survey, which is seeking annual data from three years ago that the ACA says many small cable companies simply may not possess.

"Many, many ACA members are small businesses that simply do not maintain historical records on the data sought by the FCC, particularly the number of housing units they pass," ACA President Matthew Polka explained.

If the FCC insists on collecting historical data, the ACA said the Commission should be willing to accept "best estimates" of homes-passed totals from cable systems with 20,000 subscribers or fewer.

The ACA's filing also urged the agency to reject a proposal by consumer group Free Press that all survey data be made public, including competitively sensitive information that small cable companies do not routinely share with others.

"If the FCC released an ACA member's penetration rate in a certain market, pay-TV competitors could better facilitate targeted promotional offerings in that ACA member's service area," Polka said.

The ACA represents more than 900 small- and medium-size, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.

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