FCC initiates rulemaking on carriage “quiet period”

Tue, 11/11/2008 - 7:25am
Brian Santo

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin is supporting a rulemaking to establish a quiet period for carriage negotiations between cable operators and broadcasters during the digital transition. Now comes the hard part: determining the duration.

The American Cable Association (ACA) has been lobbying for a quiet period that must begin no later than Dec. 31.

In public comments, Martin has shown himself to be amenable to the concept of a quiet period, but favors a start date in mid-January.

Dec. 31 is the expiration date of thousands of current broadcast carriage deals. By setting December 31 as a date, any negotiations still unresolved at that time could not lead to any service disruption until sometime after the digital transition (February 17), on some date yet to be determined on which the quiet period would elapse.

Martin’s preferred date, conversely, would leave the industry open to carriage disagreements and possible service disruption as a consequence of those arguments. 

“The date of the DTV transition is rapidly approaching and every precaution must be taken to ensure its success,” said ACA president and Chief Executive Officer Matthew M. Polka. “It is encouraging that Chairman Martin continues to recognize how important a quiet period is to the success of the transition, and that he is committed to issuing a rulemaking notice to solicit comments from interested parties.  We thank the Chairman and the other Commissioners for their leadership on this matter.

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