At the Public Service Commission, we are often asked how cable television and internet services
are regulated. These issues are often confused because some cable companies also provide
internet service. The Public Service Commission does not regulate internet service at all. Those
complaints must be filed with the attorney general’s office.
Cable is a bit more complicated. State law says the cable television industry is not regulated as a
utility. The main reason for this is because the service often crosses state lines, which means the
federal government is its primary regulator. On the other hand, the PSC does have some limited
jurisdiction over cable. Let me explain.
We do not license cable companies. Under state law, cable franchise licensing is left to
municipal governments or county commissions. They are the ones who decide which company
will provide your cable service.
So, what does the Commission regulate regarding the cable industry?
We decide the standards and procedures the licensing agencies may use in determining who gets
a license. We set minimum standards for service, including minimum channel capacity. We set
standards for the construction and operation of cable systems to ensure adequate and reliable
service to subscribers. And, to the extent permitted by federal law, the Commission can regulate
rates to ensure they are just and reasonable.
Consumers can file complaints with the Commission if those complaints do not involve
programming or any other issue that is pre-empted by federal law. If the Commission finds a
complaint to be valid, then the PSC can fine the company involved. This would be in cases
where the company has been found to have violated the terms of its cable franchise, or has failed
to comply with the Commission’s rules.
If you have a complaint about your cable service, I would direct you first to your cable provider.
Secondly, go to the licensing agency, which is your municipal government or county
commission. If you receive no satisfaction in either of those areas, then call us and our staff of
professionals in the informal complaints section may be able to help.
This is a complex field and it involves a complex subject. I hope you will be patient with us as
we try our best to help you.