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FCC clarifies cable carriage requirements

The FCC released a Declaratory Order on Sept. 26, clarifying the obligations of cable operators as relates to carriage of full power and some low power stations following the completion of the DTV transition in February 2009.

In the order, the commission laid out the carriage election process for stations making their final DTV transition on Feb. 17, 2009, as well as clarified how low-power broadcasters that qualify for mandatory cable carriage of their analog signals must be treated when making a voluntary transition to digital.

Regarding full-power stations that elected must-carry on Oct. 1, cable operators must carry the station’s analog signal beginning on or continuing from Jan. 1, 2009, until the broadcaster terminates its analog service. At that point, the cable operator must immediately begin carrying the station’s digital signal without allowing any gap in carriage, the order said.

According to the bureau, broadcasters must notify cable operators 30 days before their anticipated termination of analog service if the cessation of analog is earlier than Feb. 17, 2009. The order also clarified that stations demanding mandatory carriage can specify carriage on their major channel number as broadcast in their PSIP.

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