There was near universal applause — and some audible hand-clapping — at the FCC’s February Open Meeting on Thursday following the Commission’s unanimous adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the proposed transition to the “next-generation” ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.
Among those pleased with the NPRM’s movement to comment phase is American Cable Association (ACA) President/CEO Matthew Polka.
The Polka-led ACA is particularly satisfied that the FCC “has asked a broad range of questions about the proposed ATSC 3.0 transition.”
In response to the notion that some broadcasters believe transitioning to ATSC 3.0 will advance their business interests, he said ACA would not stand in the way of businesses “investing their own funds to pursue their business interests.”
But, he stressed that such pursuits should not come at the expense of consumers or other market participants. “In this regard, the proposed transition also raises many questions and concerns for ACA members,” he warned.
These concerns include:
- the characteristics of ATSC 3.0 transmissions
- the transition to the new “next-generation” standard
- new equipment required for small cable operators to deliver ATSC 3.0 signals to subscribers
- the responsibility for the costs associated with the transition
- the retransmission consent process by which broadcasters propose to work out the details of such carriage
“ACA appreciates that the NPRM includes a wide range of questions about the proposed transition, including questions on all of the subjects described above,” Polka said, indicating that ACA will fight vigorously for its members, which are mainly comprised of small to medium-sized MVPDs across the nation. “ACA believes that asking such questions will lead to a more robust debate and, ultimately, a transition that works better for viewers, not just broadcasters,” Polka said.
And, in a nod to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s pledge for transparency, Polka said ACA appreciated his decision to make available a draft NPRM several weeks prior to the vote.
“Allowing the public to review the text of the item permits more efficient and focused feedback, which again leads to better outcomes,” Polka said.
— Adam R Jacobson