At next week’s 9/11/07 open meeting of the FCC, the commissioners will consider items on mandatory carriage of digital broadcast television signals after the DTV transition, as well as items on cable programming issues and local franchising authority treatment of potential cable competitors. The key broadcast component of the meeting is described as "…a Third Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning issues related to mandatory cable carriage of digital broadcast television signals after the conclusion of the digital television transition." On the cable programming front, the FCC will examine program access issues and program tying arrangements. The competition plank will examine the FCC’s "directive that local franchising authorities not unreasonably refuse to award competitive franchises."
TVBR/RBR observation: The cable industry is fighting dual carriage after the DTV transition, but the failure of a cable system to carry a station’s digital stream (or downgrading it to analog) is seen by many as contrary to the whole point of switching to digital in the first place. Chairman Kevin Martin has been the driving force thus far behind mandatory digital carriage, and we wish him great success when this matter comes up for a vote next Tuesday.