The FCC’s decision to allow the rule requiring dual carriage of broadcast TV digital and analog signals to expire has one organization clapping and another assessing its options.
The NAB tried to fight off the sunset and was not pleased with the FCC’s decision. Dennis Wharton commented, “NAB remains concerned that today’s FCC decision has the potential to impose negative financial consequences on small local TV stations that are a source for minority, religious and independent program diversity across America. If that is the outcome, millions of viewers will be the losers. NAB will be reviewing our options with our Board of Directors.”
The American Cable Association, on the other hand, was happy about it. Matt Polka stated, “ACA commends the Federal Communications Commission for allowing the viewability rule to sunset on schedule three years after the DTV transition. By permitting cable operators to offer must-carry signals in digital only, these providers can now use the reclaimed capacity to offer improved services, such as better broadband and more diverse programming options.”
ACA was also happy that smaller cable systems retained an out in regards to carriage of high definition broadcast programming. Polka said, “ACA is especially pleased with the FCC’s decision to continue to exempt smaller cable systems from the mandatory distribution of must carry signals in native HD format. ACA appreciates that the FCC recognized the technical and economic challenges faced by smaller cable systems, justifying policies that do not disproportionately harm the consumers served by many of ACA’s rural-based member companies. The exemption will provide smaller systems with the additional time they need to upgrade so that they too can eventually provide must carry signals in HD.”