FCC must address cable, satellite questions before analog switchoff, says group

Cable systems must be required to carry broadcasters' digital signals, and they along with satellite operators should not be allowed to degrade those signals if the Federal Communications Commission expects to set a hard date for the cessation of analog television transmission, according to a proposal submitted to the FCC last week.

In the ex parte communication Oct. 29, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television laid out a series of steps that the associations argued are necessary to set a date for the completion of the analog-to-digital transition. The heads of ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliate associations, ABC O&Os, and several major station groups, including Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst-Argyle and LIN Television, also signed the letter.

Reminding the commission that broadcasters to date have spent billions of dollars and will spend billions more before the transition is complete, the associations advocated that:

  • By completion of the transition, cable systems should be required to transmit broadcasters’ full digital signals from the headend, and either provide downconversion in subscribers’ homes with analog sets or send a downconverted version for analog homes.
  • The anti-degradation principle governing analog cable carriage rules should be adapted and preserved in a digital environment.

The letter pointed out that many consumers have purchased digital sets, which the government has sought, and “should not face uncertainty” about their ability to receive HDTV and other digital services from their cable operator.

For more information, visit www.nab.org.

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