As cable television enters its third decade, the Federal Communications Commission has issued for the first time a comprehensive set of rules to provide regulatory guidance for the industry. An analysis of the new rules suggests that they are intended to accomplish several things:
---to encourage cable television to grow and to function as a social tool;
---to force it to expand to perform new functions, provide new services, assume new responsibilities;
---to protect existing communications channels to an extent consistent with the public interest;
---to provide a reasonable assurance that the subscribing public receives a television reception service of at least a minimum prescribed quality.
These various aims do not necessarily lead to the same ends. As you may have perceived in studying the new rules, compromises have had to be made and complicated approaches have had to be devised; relatively simple matters have become complex.
A reading of the new rules shows that throughout the various sections and subsections, technical considerations are interwoven with administrative and operational requirements, seemingly in nonchalant unconcern and without due regard to their impact on engineering. This seems to be unavoidable, either because of the nature of cable television operations, or because of the regulatory approach seen necessary by the Commission.
The subject of this particular discussion is limited to that special group of rules which will be found in Subparts A and K of the new Part 76 of the Commission's rules. These are the technical requirements, performance parameters, and definitions which cable television engineers and technicians will find of most immediate interest.