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NCTA goes to bat for the little guys, requests dual carriage exemption

Wed, 10/17/2007 - 9:00am
Brian Santo

The NCTA will urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to exempt small cable operators and low-capacity cable systems from a mandatory broadcast signal dual carriage order that the FCC adopted in September.

The FCC decreed that after the DTV transition in 2009, cable operators will be obligated to carry two signals from every must-carry station – an analog signal and each station’s primary digital signal (which could be SD or HD).

The order allows small cable operators to request waivers, but the American Cable Association said that some of the smallest operators may not have the resources to afford to petition for a waiver they are uncertain to qualify for, let alone be able to afford the investment in infrastructure required to support dual carriage.

NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said the Senate Commerce Committee in 2006 approved this type of blanket exemption for small operators, but the legislation never proceeded to the Senate floor. The recent FCC order “largely punts this question to a further notice of rulemaking,” according to McSlarrow’s prepared remarks, circulated in advance of his testimony scheduled for today.

“The FCC did include a process whereby operators with systems of 552 MHz or less of capacity could apply for waivers, but given the FCC’s poor record on waiver requests in other contexts, this is little more than window dressing and unnecessarily burdensome,” the testimony says.

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