FCC Sends DTV Letters to Cable


Cable operators, broadcasters and other industry players have been sent
letters from the Federal Communications Commission regarding their efforts to
promote the digital-TV transition.

The letters -- sent Wednesday and released to the media one day later --
represent FCC chairman Michael Powell's first major review of the voluntary
digital-TV plan he advanced one year ago, which was embraced by various industry
segments, including cable operators.

The latest FCC letters were sent to nine cable companies -- Comcast Corp,

Warner Cable, Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Adelphia
Communications Corp., Cablevision Systems Corp., Mediacom Communications Corp.,
Insight Communications Co. Inc. and Cable One Inc. -- the FCC said.

The letters seek specific information on the pricing and carriage of HDTV
programming, as well as on orders for set-tops with digital content-protection

One year ago, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
announced that the top 10 cable operators agreed to "offer" to carry "up to
five" HDTV channels supplied by local TV stations (commercial or public) and by
cable networks.

The operators -- which promised to meet their commitment by Jan. 1, 2003 --
said they would not pay for broadcast programming nor seek compensation for

The cable operators said their promise extended to 750-megahertz systems with
more than 25,000 subscribers in the top 100 markets.

According to the NCTA, as of February, at least one cable operator was
carrying HDTV programming in 73 of the top 100 markets. Broadcaster-supplied
HDTV signals were carried by operators in one-half of served