Martin lays out agenda for August


Here’s a shocker – the main broadcast items coming before the five FCC Commissioners on their potential 8/22/08 meeting will involve the transition to digital television. They’ll look into the rules of the road for DTV signal carriage, plus delve into a fine issued for a DTV tuner violation.

The DTV issue on FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s agenda involves relief for small cable operators. It would provide a general waiver for systems with less than 2.5K subscribers and are not part of a major national MSO (those with less than 10% of total national subscribers); or for systems with less than 552 MHz channel capacity. They would still be required to pass through usable signals for all broadcast television channels in their area, but would not have to pass along high def programming for three years.

Martin also plans to mop up an Auction No. 37 default issue and also hit a repeat offender, who is importing and distributing analog tuners, with a notice of apparent liability. There are several other issues not of interest to broadcasters.

There has already been an August open meeting, but the next meeting isn’t scheduled until late September, so Martin is hoping to clear these issues up on circulation and avoid the need for a second August meeting. If the commissioners cannot reach agreement, the second meeting would likely be held via teleconference.