Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


October 17, 2012

Federal regulators are letting cable companies scramble all their TV signals, closing a loophole that lets many households watch basic cable channels for free. The Federal Communications Commission voted Friday to lift a ban on encryption of basic cable signals, saying it will reduce the number of visits by cable technicians to disconnect service and reduce cable theft. The change will also affect households that pay for TV but have some sets hooked up directly to cable, without set-top boxes. They will need to get boxes for those sets.

Neither the FCC nor the National Cable & Telecommunications Association knows how many households are taking advantage of the unencrypted signals or will need set-top boxes. NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz says most of the theft is by cable modem customers who also connect their line to a TV set. Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., the two largest cable companies, could not say when they will start encrypting their basic signals. Satellite TV providers DirecTV Inc. and Dish Network Corp. already encrypt all their TV signals. Cablevision Systems Corp., which mainly serves customers in the New York area, also does so, thanks to a waiver from the FCC. Cablevision has had relatively few complaints about the practice, the FCC noted in its decision. Associated Press

The state legislature has put the kibosh on round-the-clock work schedules for child stars of reality shows. Call it the Jon & Kate Plus 8 law.

Under a bill approved Tuesday and expected to soon be signed by Gov. Corbett, production companies must extend the same protections to child actors who appear in reality shows as those given on the sets of movies and other television programs. "This is a major victory for the state's children," said the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Thomas Murt (R., Montgomery). "The entire General Assembly has stated emphatically that those employed in film and television are indeed working and must have rights and protections."

Murt began efforts to change the state's laws in 2009 after issues arose involving the 24/7 video shooting of Jon and Kate Gosselin's eight children in their Berks County home. Those who testified during hearings, including Kate Gosselin's brother Kevin Kreider, raised concerns about the extent to which the children's private lives were being exposed on the internationally popular show, broadcast on TLC. Kreider cited video cameras rolling in the children's bedrooms, taping of toilet training with full nudity, and lack of parental supervision on the set. Murt said he realized that the child-labor laws, written long before the reality show era - in fact, predating color TV - needed to be updated.

The bill mandates that children may work no more than eight hours a day or 48 hours a week and no later than 10 p.m. on school nights. Those under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times, and a teacher must be present on the set. The bill also requires that trust accounts be established for minor actors. The employer must deposit 15 percent of the child's gross earnings into the account. "It's the only way to make sure a portion of the child's earnings are there for them when they reach adulthood," Murt said. A Corbett spokeswoman said the governor would sign the bill.