Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Martin may try again for dual carriage

Refusing to let the must-carry issue die, FCC chairman Kevin Martin is reportedly soliciting support for a measure that would require hybrid cable television operators to carry television stations in both the analog and digital formats.

A report said Martin circulated a proposed order among FCC members last week to gauge support for his plan. The chairman must pick up two additional votes to win approval. A year ago, he failed to win enough votes for approval of the measure.

The cable television industry has long opposed any requirement that adds to its obligations to broadcast more than the single broadcast signal that it is forced to deliver under must-carry rules. There is concern Martin’s rule could actually mean triple carriage, including separate analog, digital and HD signals, for cable operators.

Martin is worried that with the February 2009 analog shut-off looming, a broadcast station relying on must-carry may not be seen on analog cable systems when the home subscriber has only an analog television set.

He is interpreting the federal law governing the transition to require dual analog and digital carriage on hybrid cable systems to ensure all viewers can receive the broadcast signals.

All-digital cable systems would not be subject to the dual carriage requirement, because it is assumed that any analog set attached to the digital system would have a conversion device in place.

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