Theft of Cable TV Service

The 1984 Cable Act, as amended by the 1992 Cable Act, was enacted by the U.S. Congress and created both civil and criminal penalties against manufacturers, suppliers and users of unauthorized cable devices. This federal theft-of-service law supplements any existing state or local laws. The federal law prohibits the interception or receipt of any communication service over a cable system, unless authorized by the operator. This includes the theft of audio, video, textual, data or other service, including data transmitted to or from a subscriber over a system that has interactive capability. Further, the law pertains to both the manufacturers and distributors of equipment, as well as individuals. The Cable Act provides a cable operator the right to seek substantial monetary damages with regard to theft of its cable services. In addition, if the violations are willful and for commercial advantage or private financial gain, the court may award damages of up to $50,000 in civil cases and a maximum of $100,000 for certain criminal violations, in addition to a maximum of five years imprisonment for subsequent offenses. Congress has taken the foregoing actions because it believes that theft of cable service poses a major threat to the economic viability of cable operators and cable program suppliers, and it creates unfair burdens on cable subscribers who are forced to subsidize the benefits that other individuals are getting by receiving cable service without paying for it. Also, tampering with cable lines often causes reception problems for paying customers like you. If you are aware of persons receiving unauthorized cable service, please call us confidentially. We will follow up to ensure that the service you receive is not affected by someone else's tampering.

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