FCC rules require cable television operators serving 1,000 or more subscribers to maintain certain records and make them available for public inspection upon request at an accessible location.

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

Cable companies are required to keep these files available for public inspection at an accessible location.

  • Political advertising records
  • Sponsorship identifications
  • Equal Employment Opportunity reports
  • Records for advertising during children’s programming
  • The location of the system’s principal local office
  • Television broadcast stations carried by the system in fulfillment of the must-carry requirements

Other requirements include:

  • Public inspection files must be made available at any time during regular business hours.
  • Cable operators must honor requests made in person to reproduce documents contained in public inspection files, and may charge a reasonable fee for copies.
  • Requests for copies of documents must be fulfilled within a reasonable time, not to exceed seven days.

Cable operators may choose, but are not required, to honor requests for copies made by mail. Requests made in person must be honored.

More information on public files

The FCC now requires almost all public file information for broadcast stations, cable systems, DBS providers, and SDARS licensees to be posted online. Learn more at publicfiles.fcc.gov/about-station-profiles.

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 Guide (pdf)


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Friday, September 8, 2017