Friday’s three-plank FCC Open Meeting disappeared into the ether. First two planks were eliminated Thursday night, and the final one was whisked away Friday morning. But there was good news for small cable systems anyway. The Open Meeting scheduled for today had only three items, but one, providing digital must carry relief for small-capacity cable systems, was approved on circulation last night. The cable item, as described to reporters by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin at the beginning of the month, was structured to provide a general digital carriage 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.
RBR/TVBR observation: At the earlier press conference, Martin characterized this and all other potential 8/2/208 meeting items as seemingly noncontroversial. We would suppose that this issue is noncontroversial in that you can’t ask someone to produce bandwidth they just don’t have. But apparently they’ll have to get the bandwidth sometime, so we’ll now be watching the run-up on this issue into the year 2012.