Washington – Small cable companies are seeking a blanket exemption from federal rules that effectively require the duplicative carriage of some local TV stations beginning next February.
The American Cable Association Sunday filed the request at the Federal Communications Commission, claiming that it was too costly for small operators to file individually with the agency.
“It would save the [FCC] time and significantly reduce the burden on these operators, sometimes serving as few as 100 subscribers, if the FCC cuts the red tape and adopts an exemption,” ACA president Matt Polka said.
ACA’s proposed exemption would include systems serving 5,000 or fewer subscribers, or systems with less than 552 MHz of capacity. Exempt systems would be able to carry must-carry signals in analog only.
Last September, the FCC adopted a rule designed to benefit TV stations that demand cable carriage. These stations may demand carriage in both analog and digital formats for three years so their signals may be seen in cablea homes with analog or digital reception equipment.
The dual-carriage mandate takes effect on Feb. 18, 2009, the day after every full-power TV station must turn off its analog transmitter and rely exclusively on digital-formatted signals.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin has refused to refer to the agency’s policy as a dual carriage mandated because cable operators that have converted their networks to all-digital platforms are exempt from providing an analog simulcast.