The FCC has technical quality standards that define a basic quality of service that cable subscribers are entitled to receive. Cable companies serving 1,000 or more subscribers must test semi-annually to demonstrate that they meet these standards.

What should I do if I'm not receiving good picture quality?

First check to make sure all the equipment and wiring you own that is connected to the cable wiring works properly, including your TVs, VCRs and converters.

If my problem seems to be with my cable signal, who do I contact to file a complaint?

Signal quality complaints should be given directly to your cable company. The FCC's rules require cable companies to have a process in place to resolve subscriber complaints on signal quality. At least once a year, companies also must notify subscribers of the process for resolving complaints.

What should I do if my cable company doesn't resolve my complaint?

Contact your local franchising authority (LFA), which is the local city, county or other government organization that regulates your cable television service. The name of the LFA may be on the front or back of your cable bill. If this information is not on your bill, contact your cable company or your local town or city hall.

The FCC's technical rules are generally enforced by the LFA, which is the organization most likely to be familiar with a local system's operation and plant. The rules also assist the LFA in judging the cable company's technical performance during the franchise renewal process. This process determines whether a cable company can continue to provide cable service to the community.

Can my cable company temporarily interrupt my service to conduct technical tests required by the FCC?

Some of the tests cable companies must perform to verify they are within the FCC's standards may require them to temporarily interrupt the service on certain channels. These interruptions are generally during off-peak viewing hours and should last no longer than a few minutes.

Does the FCC require cable companies to deliver a signal that allows me to use my closed-captioned equipment?

The FCC requires cable companies to deliver closed-captioning data intact. This requirement allows hearing-impaired subscribers who have closed-captioning decoders to receive written information on the audio portion of the programming.

How can I find out if my cable company is in compliance with the FCC's subscriber signal quality standards?

The FCC's rules require that your cable company keep its signal quality standards in a publicly accessible file at its place of business.

Filing a complaint

You have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:

  • File a complaint online
  • By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL: 1-844-432-2275
  • By mail (please include include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

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Signal Quality Standards For Cable Subscribers Guide (pdf)

Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Thursday, November 5, 2015