FCC rules require cable television operators to make certain records available for public inspection. Cable systems with 1,000 or more subscribers are required to post certain records to the Commission's online public file database. These systems are required to upload to the online file only those public file documents that are not already on file with the Commission or that the Commission does not currently maintain in its own database. Any document or information required both to be kept in the public file and to be filed with the Commission electronically in Commission databases will be imported to the online public file and updated by the Commission.

What records are cable companies required to maintain for public inspection?

These are some of the records that cable systems with 1,000 or more subscribers are required to post to the online public file:

  • Political advertising records
  • Sponsorship identifications
  • Equal Employment Opportunity public file reports
  • Records for advertising during children's programming
  • Television broadcast stations carried by the system in fulfillment of the must-carry requirements

Cable systems with fewer than 1,000 subscribers are exempt from the online file and from the following public inspection file requirements: political file, sponsorship identification, EEO records, and records regarding advertising during children's programming.  These systems must maintain certain other records locally, however, including records regarding the television broadcast stations carried by the system in fulfillment of the must-carry requirements.

More information on public files

More information, including a complete list of the records cable systems must place in the online file, can be found at publicfiles.fcc.gov/find.

Subscriber information privacy requirements

Because cable television companies often must collect information from subscribers in order to provide services and perform billing, FCC rules also address privacy concerns.  Companies are required to take steps to protect subscribers' personal information. See our consumer guide, Protecting Your Privacy: Phone and Cable Records, for more information.

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Cable Company Records and Public Inspection Requirements (pdf)


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