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NAB and NCTA dispute HDTV Super Bowl carriage

The NAB took a potshot at the cable industry last week, claiming that viewers in 64 of 80 markets where broadcasters have converted to HDTV were unable to watch the ABC’s HD Super Bowl telecast on their local cable system due to a lack of carriage.

“It’s disappointing that cable TV operators are continuing to block viewer access to digital and HDTV programming delivered by local broadcasters,” said Eddie Fritts, NAB president. “One would think that cable operators would want to provide their customers with access to broadcast HDTV programming like the Super Bowl, which year in and year out is the country's most watched program.”

Answering the charge, Daniel Brenner, attorney for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), said cable operators regret that many television stations have rejected the guidance of FCC Chairman Michael Powell so that cable could regularly offer ABC’s HD broadcasts without charging an additional fee.

“Even more regrettable is the failure of other ABC stations, serving more than 30 percent of TV households, to offer any HDTV, months after an FCC deadline, so fans could view the game via an antenna. Instead, the free spectrum given to these broadcasters for digital spectaculars like the Super Bowl remains idle,” said Brenner.

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