FCC, small cable ops find dual must-carry compromise
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin popped into the American Cable Association’s Summit with a compromise proposal to allow small systems to convert terrestrial broadcast high definition (HD) signals into (standard definition) SD after the digital transition.
The plan relieves some small operators from dual (HD and SD) must-carry obligations that otherwise would have applied to all cable operators, large and small.
The ACA had requested an exemption for systems with 552 MHz of capacity or less from the obligation to carry the must-carry broadcaster's signal in a digital format, if the system was already providing the signal to all of its customers in an analog format.
Ordinarily, the FCC considers the conversion from HD to SD to constitute signal degradation, which it would otherwise disallow under the circumstances.
The FCC’s counterproposal will suspend that rule for systems smaller than 552 MHz, provided the signal is viewable to all subscribers, Martin explained.
Martin’s proposal was deemed by the ACA to be an acceptable compromise.
Patrick Knorr, ACA chairman and chief operating officer of Sunflower Broadband said, “This is a meaningful action that will ensure that all cable households will continue to receive a viewable signal after the transition, and allow independent cable operators to use their limited resources to best serve their customers’ needs, such as providing important advanced services, in smaller markets and rural areas.”
ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said, “This was the right decision for the hundreds of system operators who didn’t have the extra bandwidth to comply with the digital must-carry obligation.”
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