FCC chair said ready to end viewability rule


A major factor in the DTV transition was making sure no viewer was left behind, and a big part of that was making sure MVPDs pass though a signal viewable on an analog TV set.

According to The Wrap, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is actively seeking to bring the dual carriage rule to an end, despite the fact that there are still a lot of analog television sets in use.

The idea that the viewability rules may sunset has sparked protests from minority and consumer groups, who note that minority and low income households will be the ones suffering the greatest negative impact from the rule’s retirement.

Without an analog pass-through from cable companies, these consumers will need to get a digital-to-analog converter box in order to receive a viewable signal.

According to the report, the FCC isn’t commenting on the matter on grounds that it is under negotiation.

RBR-TVBR observation: Surprise! We thought we’d suffered the need to use the awkward-to-type phrase “digital-to-analog converter box” several years ago, but we were wrong.

It’s hard to believe that an FCC that invokes public interest, protecting consumers and looking after the needs of minorities would suddenly just throw them under the bus – particularly after the rigmarole involving the converter box coupon program in the run-up to the DTV transition.

Perhaps the FCC has a remedy in mind that we simply aren’t yet aware of. All we can say is that if the possible demise of the rule has been leaked, the FCC might save itself a lot of grief if the presence of a remedy is leaked as well.



  1. Your story on sunsetting the analog viewability rule for cable subscribers does not mention the solution: As long as the cable operator provides a digital covnerter box (their own box, not an over-the-air converter box) to these subscribers, none of them will lose any channels and everything will remain viewable.

    I just read a story on line where a Time Warner franchise in Maine has done just that – issued a cable-company digital box to every analog-TV-set subscriber – for free (they’ll charge 99 cents a month for it starting in 2014).

    There is a payoff for this for the cable operator, even if they don’t charge for the box at the outset. The wasteful bandwidth used by 10 or 20 or 30 analog channels will get recaptured by the cable operator who can use it to deploy dozens, possibly 100 or more, new digital channels or IP services.

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