NCTA, cable industry offer 2-month quiet period on channel migration

Wed, 12/17/2008 - 7:55am
Mike Robuck

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) President Kyle McSlarrow sent a letter yesterday to Capitol Hill lawmakers that offered to halt the migration of analog channels to digital during a two-month “quiet period” that would go into effect on Dec. 31.

The quiet period was proposed as a way of easing consumer confusion over next year’s federally mandated digital transition, when analog transmissions by broadcasters are slated to cease.

McSlarrow’s letter, which was addressed to the chairman and chairman-elect of both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said all of the major cable operators across the nation agreed to the quiet period.

“We will also offer a promotional package of the broadcast basic tier to new customers starting Dec. 31, a suggestion made by some of the leading broadcasters to facilitate the broadcaster DTV transition,” the letter said. “And, on the assumption that not all issues with the DTV transition will be resolved as of Feb. 17, for at least three months thereafter we will, upon request, offer free equipment to analog cable households for at least a year, and will ensure that such households can receive channels moved from analog to digital broadcast basic or expanded basic tiers without incurring additional service charges.

“These proposals will not eliminate every instance of confusion,” the letter continued. “But it is our hope that these steps will provide needed assistance by substantially reducing confusion before, during and after the broadcasters’ DTV transition. And we will continue to explore other ways we can continue to be helpful.”

The NCTA and the American Cable Association (ACA) have also asked for a quiet period on retransmission agreements that will be renegotiated around the time of the digital transition.

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