Under a law
passed by the General Assembly, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has been charged with handling certain kinds of consumer complaints against cable television companies. Local governments will continue to handle some cable complaints.
Before filing a cable complaint with us, please review the two sections below:
Contact your cable company first.
Before filing a complaint, please contact your cable company or video provider first and give it the opportunity to resolve your problem. Often, the company can resolve your complaint quickly and it may be unnecessary to file a complaint.
Find out where to file your complaint - with local government or the Attorney General's Office.
If you first contacted your cable company and it did not resolve your problem, you may file a complaint with your local government or with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division
, depending on the type of franchise your company has.
Our office handles complaints only against companies with a State-issued franchise
. If your cable company has a State-issued franchise, you can file a complaint
with our Consumer Protection Division.
If your cable company has a local franchise, you should file your complaint with your local government - usually your town, city or county.
To determine what type of franchise your cable company has, ask the company or review your cable bill. If your cable company has a State-issued franchise, your bill should say that complaints should be filed with the Attorney General’s Office. If it doesn’t, your company likely has a local franchise and you should contact your city or county manager’s office.
If you have asked your cable company and reviewed your cable bill and still cannot find out whether your company has a local or State-issued franchise, contact your local government or us and we will help you determine where your complaint should be filed.
Before filing a complaint with us, be sure to call your service provider to try to resolve your issue and to determine that your provider has a State-issued franchise. In addition, please review these tips and frequently asked questions. The tips may help you avoid or solve problems from the start, and there are some issues that should be directed to the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), the federal agency responsible for regulating cable and video services.
What can I do to protect my children from sex and violence on television?
Parental Controls: We encourage you to be aware of and take control over the programs your children watch. You have several options for blocking unwanted material.
First, if your cable service has a set-top box, the box probably contains a parental control feature on it that you can use to restrict access to certain channels or programs by using special codes. Alternatively, you may also ask your cable or video company about other ways to block certain channels. If you have any questions about how to use these devices or need to upgrade your equipment to include a parental control device, contact your cable company. Each company has different equipment and the company can best explain how to properly use it.
Second, if your television is fairly new and has a screen 13 inches or larger, it probably has a “V-chip.” Instructions on how to use the V-chip should be included in the operating instructions for your television set. You can use the V-chip to block programs based on ratings developed by the television industry and approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
These ratings, also called “TV Parental Guidelines” are designed to identify some programs containing violence and sexual content. Not all programs are rated, however. Sports, news, commercials, promotions, and unedited movies with a Motion Picture Association of America rating that are aired on premium cable channels such as HBO are not required to have the ratings. Here are the different ratings used:
TV-Y – This program is designed to be appropriate for all children.
TV-Y7 - This program is designed for children age 7 and above. Some programs with extra levels of “fantasy” violence may be designated TV-Y7-FV.
TV-G - This program is designed to be suitable for all ages.
TV-PG - This program contains some material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. The program contains moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
TV-14 - This program contains some material that parents may find unsuitable for children under age 14. This program contains intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).
TV-MA - This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under age 17. This program contains graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).
Obscene and Indecent Programming:
Generally, cable and video companies are free to decide what channels are available to their customers. We do not have the authority to tell a company to get rid of certain channels or programs.
However, federal law places restrictions on the airing of “obscene” and “indecent” programs. Generally, companies cannot air “obscene” material at any time. “Indecent” material can only be aired during certain hours, generally late at night.
My cable TV provider says they are switching to a digital signal. What does that mean for me?
When cable TV companies switch their signals to digital, customers with older analog TVs and no cable box can no longer view cable TV. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires cable TV companies to make digital adapters available to these customers at no charge for a limited time. After that limited period ends, the digital adapters will cost most of these customers a few dollars a month. The switchover to digital is taking place in North Carolina at different times in different TV markets. Some areas and cable providers are already digital. For more information, contact your cable provider.
What if I think my cable service is too expensive?
We are sympathetic with your concerns, but the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division does not have the authority to regulate the rates your cable or video company charges.
If your cable company has a local franchise, you may contact your local franchising authority, usually your city or county, for information regarding how it regulates your company’s rates. Generally, the local franchising authority is responsible, at least in some circumstances, for regulating rates for “basic cable service,” the introductory level of cable service a consumer can buy. This package usually includes local television stations and some public, educational and government access channels.
Generally, the local franchising authority does not have the ability to regulate the rates a cable company charges for programs which are beyond the basic service tier. Get more information about the regulation of cable television rates
from the FCC.
What if I don't like my line-up of channels? What if my cable company does not carry a channel that I want?
You may request a certain channel at any time by contacting your cable or video company. Companies usually take these requests into account, along with other business concerns, when they consider adding new channels to the line-up.
However, for the most part, the company is free to decide what channels it carries and on what tier a channel is offered.
We do not have the authority to tell companies what channels it must provide or how it should package its channels.
What if I don't like my public access channels or want my cable company to carry different public access channels?
Public access channels, called PEG channels because they are for public, educational or governmental use, are the responsibility of local governments.
Cable companies operating under a local franchise must follow the PEG channel requirements of the local franchise agreement. These requirements will vary from place to place, depending on what the agreement says.
Cable companies operating under a state-issued franchise must follow the PEG channel requirements of the new law. Generally, cities and counties can request PEG channels from the company. The city or county is allowed a minimum number of channels, depending on how large its population is.
If you have any unresolved complaints about PEG channels, you should contact your city
What if the cable company has damaged my yard or property?
Generally, cable companies must comply with any right-of-way regulations the city has. If you have any questions about whether a right-of-way regulation exists in your city or what the regulation says, you may contact your city government.
If a cable or video company with a State-issued franchise has damaged your yard or property, please contact the company first and give it the opportunity to fix the problem. If the company does not fix the problem, you may file a complaint with us. Include photographs of the damage if you can.
What can I do if a company with a State-issued franchise refuses to provide me with a cable or video service?
Under the new law, cable and video companies with State-issued franchises are generally not required to provide service in particular areas. Our office does not have the authority to tell companies where they must provide service.
A cable or video company may not deny service to any group of potential residential subscribers within its franchise area due to race or income. If you believe that you have been the subject of this type of discrimination, please file a complaint
Can you help me get broadband, high-speed Internet service in my area?
Our office does not have the ability to order a company to provide broadband service in a certain area. If you want broadband service and it is not available in your area, contact your nearest cable or telephone company and request it. The more the companies hear from interested consumers, the more they will consider making the service available.