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NAB, Cable Spar Over PSIP Rules

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed a Response to Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) with the FCC earlier this month. NAB's response focused on the section of the Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification of the NCTA dealing with the carriage of program system information protocol (PSIP) data from broadcasters, including tuning information and program guides. The NCTA petition was filed in the FCC proceedings dealing with the commercial availability of navigation devices, compatibility between cable systems and consumer electronics equipment, and implementation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (CS Docket No. 97-80 and PP Docket No. 00-67).

In its filing, NCTA suggested slight changes in the wording of three areas of the PSIP rules. In its response, NAB it "supports NCTA's objective of increased clarity and sees value in some clarification for two of the three areas, but believes the FCC was exactly correct on the third issue."

NCTA suggested that Section 76.640(b)(1)(iv)(B) of the rules requiring carriage of PSIP data for each service in the transport stream (EIT-0,-1,-2,-3) for a 12 hour time period is not clear. NCTA said the rule can be read as not permitting carriage of the option EITs. NAB disagreed, saying it believes the rule section "requires the cable systems to carry all tables that are mandatory in ATSC's PSIP standard A/65 but does not preclude or prohibit cable from carrying any optional EIT tables." NAB said that if the FCC decides additional rule clarification is needed, the rule be changed to:

§ 76.640 (b)(1)(iv)(B) PSIP data describing a twelve-hour time period shall be carried for each service in the transport stream. This twelve-hour period corresponds to delivery of the following event information tables: EIT-0, -1, -2 and -3. Additional tables may also be carried.

NAB agreed with NCTA that cable operators should not be required to correct PSIP data provided by content providers that does not conform to ATSC A/65B.

In the third case, NCTA requested limiting the number of services described by the PSIP data structures to only "available audio video services." NTCA asserted, "this rule could be misinterpreted to mean that cable operators must describe all services contained within a transport stream that includes PSIP data; e.g., data services or ancillary services, which was not the intent of the February 2000 PSIP agreement." NAB opposed NCTA's requested change and said the FCC rule is "exactly right."

"In the modern world, data enhancements to programs will be as important to consumers as audio and video program elements," NAB said in its filing. "Program providers' development of such enhanced services and receiver support of them will be inhibited if the change suggested by the NBCTA is made."

NAB also noted in a footnote that removal of Optional EIT Tables from a broadcast stream, "if not done with extreme care, can in fact have technical ramifications and can add Transport Stream jitter that would violate MPEG-2 rules."

For more information, refer to the links in the first paragraph.