Glossary of Cable Television Terms


Access Channels: Cable channels, including public, educational, and governmental, made available to community members on a free or leased basis either with or without studio and production facilities. An Issuing Authority (governmental entity authorized to grant a cable license or franchise) may require that such channels be provided as part of a licensing agreement. The cable operator may not exercise editorial control over the programming on these channels, except that a cable operator may refuse to transmit any programming that contains obscenity or indecency, 47 U.S.C. § 531 (compare Local Origination).


Access Corporation: A corporation organized within a municipality for the purpose of operating that municipality's access channel(s).


Advanced Television Systems Committee (“ATSC”) Tuner: A high definition (HD) tuner that by the end of 2014 is required to be in every new television with a screen 20" or larger. It receives over the air broadcast signals from local channels via an antenna, not a cable.  This tuner must be connected to a roof top or attic mount antenna, and in certain situations even a table top antenna will receive the local HD broadcasts.  If an icon indicating available in HD/5.1 is displayed at the bottom of the television screen, an ATSC tuner with an antenna is needed to receive HD broadcasts.


Analog: Technology originally designed for transmitting voice (e.g., telephones) where signals are sent as electromagnetic waves. For video service, the signal is sent from the television broadcaster to the local cable operator to the subscriber's home. Along the way, there are a series of amplifiers; however, the manner in which the signal is sent is analogous to making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy so that by the time the signal gets to the subscriber's home, the quality of the picture or audio may not be as clear as the original, meaning there may be snow or noise interference (compare Digital).


Ascertainment: A process that affords the public with an opportunity to comment and participate during the initial licensing of a cable operator or the renewal licensing of the incumbent cable operator. It is also a period of time for the Issuing Authority to gather data and review the cable operator's past and present performance and to identify the community's future cable-related needs and interests.


Basic Service Tier (also referred to as BST). Lowest level of service available and required by federal law to include, at a minimum, the retransmission of local television broadcast signals and local public access channels. Rates for the basic service tier are the only programming rates currently regulated.


Blackout: Term used to describe the non-broadcast of a live event (e.g., sports, cultural) usually imposed by the sponsor(s) of the event (e.g., NFL).


Broadband: Descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that provide consumers with a single-switched facility offering integrated access to voice, video, video-on-demand, high-speed data (Internet), and interactive information delivery.


Cable Advisory Committee (“CAC”): The CAC is appointed by the Issuing Authority (government entity authorized to grant a cable license or franchise) and its role varies according to the authority defined by the Issuing Authority.  Its main responsibility is to negotiate cable licenses with operators and oversee the ascertainment process.  In addition, the CAC acts as liaison to the cable operator by supervising the cable operator's response to complaints, responding to residents' questions regarding the cable system, and staying abreast of community programming issues.


CableCARD: A CableCARD (or point-of-deployment module) allows a consumer to access cable programming

using a digital cable-ready television set or a retail set-top box (navigation device) instead of renting a set-top box

from a cable operator.  Cable operators must provide subscribers with CableCARDs upon request.


Cable Home Wiring: The cable wiring dedicated to a subscriber’s premises on the subscriber’s side of the Demarcation Point, including inside wiring, but excluding any active elements such as amplifiers, converters or decoder boxes, or remote control units (see Demarcation Point). The subscriber bears responsibility for costs associated with repairing Cable Home Wiring. Many providers will offer subscribers maintenance coverage for Cable Home Wiring for a monthly fee.


Cable Programming Service Tier (also referred to as CPST): Unregulated service tier that typically includes channels such as CNN, ESPN, Lifetime, MTV, and Nickelodeon. Subscribers wishing to obtain CPST programming must subscribe to the basic service tier and in some circumstances must rent or purchase a converter.


Coaxial Cable: A type of wiring that is widely used in the cable television industry and can carry voice, data and video simultaneously.  The coaxial (or “coax”) cable consists of an inner conductor on which signal voltage is impressed with respect to the shield. The center conductor is surrounded by a dielectric, then a shield. Frequently, an insulation layer surrounds the shield.


Converter: Equipment authorized by and often provided by a cable operator for a fee that allows access or controls interference to cable services. Digital converters use computer technology and provide two-way transmission resulting in access to digital programming and interactive services, such as the on-screen purchase of pay-per-view movies and on-screen television guides (see also Set-Top Box).