Cable Pushes Back on Martin Proposal for Low-Power Must-Carry

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association struck a compromise back in September for operators to carry local broadcasters on analog tiers for three years, a deal reflected in an FCC order.

But the NCTA didn’t count on the FCC adding low-power and Class A stations into that mix, as an order reportedly circulated this week by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would do.

“How low power stations are viewed over-the-air after the digital transition is easily addressed by communicating the availability of converter boxes that will ‘pass-through’ the analog signal,” said NCTA Vice President of Communications Brian Dietz. “It would be plainly irrelevant to burden cable operators with unconstitutional must-carry obligations that will not even help over-the-air viewers.

“The cable industry was the first to voluntarily launch a massive consumer education campaign and resolved in good faith the carriage of both public broadcasters and commercial must carry stations after the digital transition,” he said. “It would be especially unfortunate now to inject needless uncertainty and litigation which would only serve to undermine the goal of a smooth digital transition.”