Cable: Martin Floating Dual-Carriage Idea

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Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin is floating a proposal that cable considers a form of dual must-carry that the agency rejected a few weeks before Martin took command in March.

Industry and FCC sources confirmed the substance of Martin’s proposal Tuesday.

Under the proposal, a TV station, starting in October, would be allowed to elect must-carry for either its analog or digital signal. Today, a TV station may elect must-carry for the digital signal only after it has surrendered its analog license.

Martin has circulated the proposal to the other FCC members, hoping to bring it up for a vote at the agency’s July 14 public meeting. In February, Martin voted in the majority to ban mandatory cable carriage of both analog- and digital-TV signals.

Cable is objecting to Martin's new proposal on grounds that a TV station that elected digital must-carry would reach only the 40% of cable homes with digital set-tops. Cable would then have to downconvert the signal to analog for the other 60%, producing a de facto dual-carriage regime.

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