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NCTA, NAB Continue to Squabble Over HD

In the latest HDTV spin wars between the cable industry and broadcasters, the NAB this week claimed that viewers in 64 of 80 markets where broadcasters have converted to digital HDTV were "blocked" from watching ABC's HD broadcasts of the Super Bowl through their local cable system.

Less than 24 hours later, cable shot back. "Cable was pleased to make available this year's Super Bowl in HDTV to millions of customers," said Dan Brenner, senior VP of law and regulatory policy for the NCTA. "We regret that many stations have rejected the guidance of FCC Chairman Powell, so that cable could regularly offer ABC HD broadcasts without charging an additional fee." The release goes on to state that it is the failure of the remaining ABC stations that have not converted to digital, and which serve more than 30 percent of TV households, to offer any HDTV so fans could view the game via an antenna.

Citing a survey it conducted of cable carriage of digital and HDTV signals, the NAB says that some cable operators in markets covering 27 percent of TV households are delivering the ABC HDTV signal to subscribers, whereas ABC affiliates are broadcasting HDTV to markets covering 69 percent of TV households.

The NAB has maintained that cable operators are carrying fewer than 10 percent of the 700 local TV stations that have made the digital transition.