Cable also seeking auction moving expense reimbursement


ACA / American Cable AssociationIt’s already bad enough that some television broadcasters will be forced to change channels – naturally they want to be harmless for expenses related to the move. And the same goes for cable systems.

This is particularly true in smaller markets that encompass a lot of geography – and which offer a strong possibility that various steps will need to be taken to continue to pass along a strong off-air signal for key local television stations.

As such, the American Cable Association, which specializes in the needs of smaller cable operators, is making its case before the FCC.

“ACA appreciates the FCC’s effort to develop a ‘Catalog of Eligible Expenses’ for costs incurred by multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) that continue to carry broadcast television stations after the FCC conducts the incentive auctions. Such a list will provide the clarity required to implement Congress’ directive in the Spectrum Act that it reimburse costs ‘reasonably incurred’ by MVPDs to continue to carry a broadcast signal due to channel relocations, but it must be flexible enough to accommodate all such costs” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

ACA summarized remarks it made in a related FCC filing. “ACA stressed that the cost catalog must provide for fair reimbursement for any reasonable ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ costs that cable operators incur as a result of a broadcast station voluntarily or involuntarily changing its channel assignment. Because smaller cable operators have constrained administrative and financial resources and some have headends that lie barely within a broadcast station’s signal contour, it is essential that the FCC be comprehensive in its approach in carrying out Congress’ directive that cable operators be held harmless and ensure that they have the right to seek reimbursement for all costs reasonably incurred to continue carrying a broadcast signal, subject to funding availability.”

It continued, “ACA underscored the need for the FCC to include other costs that may be unique to small cable operators. For example, changes in broadcast transmitter location due to channel sharing or repacking may affect the quality of the signal delivered to the cable system. Inevitably, some cable systems will no longer be able to receive a good-quality signal via antenna, requiring the cable operator to purchase alternative forms of delivery, such as fiber, microwave or satellite, in order to continue carriage of the channel and its availability to their customers. Unless operators can obtain reimbursement for such additional delivery costs, they may be unable to continue to carry affected stations, contrary to Congress’ intent.”

“Such outlays should also be eligible for reimbursement from the Fund,” Polka said.