ACA Seeks Extension of HD Must-Carry Exemption

Says Dozens of Systems Still Need the Help

The American Cable Association wants the FCC to extend its HD exemption for three more years for "some very small systems."

"Although the number of operators and systems that will qualify for the HD exemption is steadily decreasing," says ACA, "reliance on the HD exemption remains critical for those systems that remain channel locked or are financially unable to afford the necessary equipment purchases to expand their channel capacity."

In 2008, the FCC exemption smaller operators from the FCC requirement that cable operators deliver TV station signals in HD if they are delivered in HD over the air. In 2012, at the behest of ACA, the FCC extended for three more years.

Exempt are systems with 552 MHz or less channel capacity, or with fewer than 2,500 or fewer subs and aren't affiliated with a cable operator serving more than 10% of all MVPD subs.

That extra three years ends in June 2015, but ACA was not waiting until then to let the FCC know that "a limited number [dozens] of very small" operators need more time.

“This exemption is critical for dozens of small cable operators that currently lack either the channel capacity or the financial wherewithal to upgrade their very small systems to accommodate the capacity demands of carriage of must-carry TV stations in HD.  Without the exemption, many would be forced to drop existing channels or shut down systems altogether,” said ACA president Matt Polka on Friday.

ACA also wants the FCC to hold that analog-only systems with "no digital video bandwidth" are permanently exempt from the requirement on the grounds that they can't do it.