FCC seek comments on DTV transition cable issues

On April 25, the FCC asked for comments on proposals to ensure all cable subscribers, including those with analog TV sets, can view must-carry television stations on cable systems after the DTV transition occurs on Feb. 17, 2009.

About 50 percent of all cable subscribers — roughly 32 million households — are analog cable subscribers, and many digital cable subscribers have one or more television sets that only receive analog cable service. The proceeding seeks to prevent service disruption for those consumers.

By law, cable operators are obliged to ensure that all subscribers can view all must-carry local broadcast stations. To ensure that requirement is satisfied, the FCC has proposed cable operators must either:

  • carry the signals of all must-carry stations in an analog format to all analog cable subscribers; or
  • for all-digital systems, carry those signals only in digital format, provided that all subscribers have the necessary equipment to view the broadcast content.

The commission also reaffirmed cable systems must carry high-definition broadcast signals in HD format. The FCC also asked for comment on whether it should move from a subjective to an objective measure of what constitutes material degradation. One proposal is to require all content bits transmitted by the broadcaster be carried by the cable operator.

The commission also wants comments on whether or not its existing nondiscrimination requirement, which prohibits cable operators from treating cable programming services more favorably than broadcast signals for purposes of degradation, is a better objective test for material degradation.

For more information, visit: www.fcc.gov.