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Dual DTV ruling gets green light from FCC

Posted: 14 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:FCC ruling? DTV rules? cable operators?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the DTV transition rules that will require cable operators to either carry digital broadcast signals in analog format or downconvert digital signals for subscribers. The latter option would require that cable operators provide subscribers with converter boxes to view digital broadcasts.

The dual "must-carry" ruling requiring cable operators to provide both analog and digital broadcast signals represents a compromise between broadcasters and cable operators who had sparred over "must-carry" rules in the run-up to the U.S. DTV transition. U.S. analog TV broadcasts are scheduled to end on February 2009.

A key provision of the ruling approved by the FCC on Sept. 11 would extend the "viewability requirements" to February 2012. But regulators agreed to review the requirement during its last year to determine it if can be lifted "in light of the state of technology and the marketplace."

"The 1992 Cable Act is very clear," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement issued with the ruling. "Cable operators must ensure that all local broadcast stations carried pursuant to this act are 'viewable' by all cable subscribers. Thus, they may not simply cut off the signals of these must-carry broadcast stations after the digital transition. The order we adopt today prevents the cable operators from doing just that."

Cable operators said they were pleased with the "must-carry" ruling, which they had fought in court for years. "We are pleased that the FCC dropped an ill-considered mandate that would have turned back the clock on decades of digital technology innovation," Kyle McSlarrow, president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said in a statement.

- George Leopold
EE Times

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