The American Cable Association submitted a filing with the Federal Communications Commission today asking that small cable systems be exempted from the dual-carriage rules that are slated to take place Feb. 19 of next year.

The FCC is requiring all cable operators to carry both digital and analog broadcast signals of must-carry stations, which will put a strain on smaller cable operators’ budgets and plant capacities.

The dual-carriage rules by the FCC follow on the heels of the agency’s request that all cable operators cease using analog signals and transition to digital signals by February of next year.

Not all of ACA’s 1,100 small and independent cable operators across the country have the system capacity and financial resources for the technology upgrades that would be required to comply with the FCC’s dual-must carry rules, or the number of subscribers to warrant dual carriage, according to the ACA. The FCC previously said it would entertain waiver requests for smaller systems –  552 MHz or lower – on an ad hoc basis.

In today's filing, the ACA specifically requested an exemption from the obligation to provide must-carry signals in digital format for systems serving 5,000 or fewer subscribers, or systems with less than 552 MHz of capacity.

"The FCC must-carry waiver process is costly and burdensome for small cable operators and needs to be replaced with outright exemptions," said ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka. "Clearly the FCC understands there is a need for a must-carry exemption for small operators, or they would not have created a waiver process in the first place. Unfortunately, it costs time and a lot of money to qualify for that waiver, both of which these operators do not have. It would save the Commission time and significantly reduce the burden on these operators, sometimes serving as few as 100 subscribers, if the FCC cuts the red tape and adopts an exemption."

More Broadband Direct:

• American Cable Association asks FCC for relief on dual carriage mandate

• Court orders LimeLight to pay Akamai $45M 

• SinglePoint improves iTV market share 

• Evolution Broadband forms Evolution Digital for digital transition 

• AT&T joins consortium to fund wireless start-ups 

• AT&T adds VoIP in K.C. 

• Harmonic powers Polish provider’s VOD 

• Broadband Briefs for 3/3/08