Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 9:06am
DID THE FCC BLOW UP CABLE'S PUBLIC TV DEAL?
[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
The Federal Communications Commission may have just blown up cable’s 2005 digital-TV carriage agreement with hundreds of public TV stations. Without any government intervention, cable operators agreed to carry as many as four digital programming services from each local public station after all TV broadcasts went digital. But there was one element missing from the agreement: Any mention of delivering an analog signal to TV viewers after the transition. That absence conflicts with the unanimous FCC vote Tuesday night regarding cable systems’ carriage of must-carry TV stations after Feb. 17, 2009. That is the official cutoff date for all analog broadcasts. All 386 full-power public TV stations have mandatory cable carriage rights. And in its new ruling, the FCC said all cable systems that have not gone all-digital by Feb. 17, 2009 are required to transmit in analog and digital all must-carry stations until Feb. 17, 2012. It’s possible that cable operators might have to comply with both the agreement and the new FCC’s rules, which would mean public stations would get multicast must carry and analog carriage. It’s just as possible that if the public stations are forced to rely just on the FCC’s rules, they would get analog carriage and carriage of just one digital service, losing multicast carriage contained in the cable deal.
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