After a relatively fast start, it’s been something of a rocky road for the Commission’s rulemaking aimed at encouraging the use of consumer-owned “CableCARD” devices for accessing MVPD services. The Commission got the latest stage of this proceeding cranked up in April, 2010, with a Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking teeing up a number of new rules that the Commission adopted a scant six months later.  That kind of quick turn-around seemed to indicate that the agency was intent upon getting its new rules into the books as soon as possible.

Nine months after their adoption, though, they’re still not there. But now, at long last, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Part of the intervening delay may be attributable to the fact that the Commission had to tweak the still-not-in-effect rules on its own motion back in January. But after that happened, the cone of silence descended over the proceeding until, finally, the text of the October, 2010, report and order was published in the Federal Register on July 8, about nine months after it was first adopted. That publication announced that the new rules would become effective on August 8, 2011 except for several sections (to be specific, Sections76.1205(b)(1), 76.1205(b)(1)(i), 76.1205(b)(2), 76.1205(b)(5), and 76.1602(b)). Those exceptions involve “information collections” requiring OMB prior approval (thanks to our pal, the Paperwork Reduction Act).  

Good news. According to a notice in the Federal Register, OMB approved those sections on July 12, so they, too, can take effect on August 8. Here’s a link to the record of the OMB proceeding (which apparently didn’t get started until May 31, 2011, when the FCC got around to sending the file over to OMB).

Of course, the July 8 Federal Register publication also opened up the opportunity to file for reconsideration or judicial review of the new rules – but let’s take things one at a time. For the time being, at least, the new rules are set to take effect on August 8.

[Update: In a public notice released July 26, 2011, the Commission has confirmed the August 8 effective date of the CableCARD rules – with two exceptions. Those two exceptions are: (1) Section 76.640(b)(4)(iii), which requires cable operators to include a home networking output on high-definition set-top boxes (except for unidirectional, non-recording settop boxes) – effective date, December 1, 2012; and (2) the requirement in Section 76.1205(b)(1) that cable operators provide the means to allow subscribers to self-install CableCARDs – effective date, November 1, 2011 only with respect to operators that did not previously offer self-install options for leased boxes or cable modems and needed to time to gear up for that.]