The NCTA directly petitioned the FCC to revise its rule mandating dual must-carry for small systems, repeating requests that the FCC provide a blanket exemption rather than an opportunity to apply for a waiver.

NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow touched upon the issue in testimony in Congress last week, but followed up with a letter. “I am writing to emphasize the importance of swift action,” he wrote.

He asked that the exemption apply to any operator with channel capacity of 552 MHz or less, or with 5,000 or fewer customers.

Congress and the FCC have been ignoring similar pleas for months. The American Cable Association (ACA) has approximately 1,100 members, many of which would qualify for such an exemption. The ACA has been arguing that it will be literally impossible for many small operators to comply with dual must-carry, for lack of money to buy the necessary equipment.

The FCC provided the possibility for waivers as relief, but few in the industry believe that mechanism will be adequate.

The comment echoes criticism of the waiver process, earlier provided by ACA Chairman Patrick Knorr in Congressional testimony last October, when he said that the waiver process “unfairly requires systems with limited financial resources to engage in and pay for a process at the FCC with an unsure outcome, as our industry recently learned with respect to the ban on integrated set-top boxes.” He continued, “If an operator can’t afford equipment, what makes the Commission think they can afford a lawyer?”

Last week, McSlarrow called the waiver process “window dressing” (story here).

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