The cable industry is asking the Federal Communications Commission to rule on
a potentially explosive issue: Who pays for broadcast digital-TV signals carried
by cable operators?
The agency is examining whether all cable subscribers should pay for
digital-TV-signal additions to the basic tier, or just the minority of
subscribers who have digital-TV sets or digital set-tops.
In a filing Monday, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
urged the FCC to adopt a rule that requires all subscribers to shoulder the cost
of adding local digital-TV signals to the basic tier.
Such an approach could anger analog-only cable subscribers, who would see
their rates rise for programming they can't view without renting converters or
buying expensive digital-TV receivers. And consumers with digital equipment
might get upset about having to purchase analog channels despite being early
The NCTA said its approach was rational because 'these [DTV] signals still
occupy capacity and operators still incur costs, regardless of how many
customers chose to get that equipment.'