NCTA Rejects NAB's Latest DTV-Carriage Plan


The cable industry Wednesday instantly rejected a new broadcaster proposal that outlined plans for cable carriage of digital-TV signals over the next few years.

In a prepared statement, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said the plan floated by the National Association of Broadcasters would force cable systems to carry both analog and digital signals during the transition to all-digital TV -- a dual-carriage regime the Federal Communications Commission refused to adopt in January 2001, fearing First Amendment repercussions.

"The NAB's latest proposal is nothing more than a back-door attempt to obtain dual must-carry of both the analog and digital broadcast signal," NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz said.

The NAB plan was submitted to the FCC Tuesday as a joint effort with the Association of Maximum Service Television (MSTV).

The key point in the plan would allow TV stations to elect must-carry for either the analog or digital signal and retransmission consent for the non-must-carry signal.

From the cable industry's perspective, the plan is the equivalent of dual must-carry because many stations would elect must-carry for the digital signal, which would be seen only in homes with digital boxes or digital-TV sets -- about 30% of cable subscribers.

In that case, cable systems would be forced to provide an analog copy of the digital signal or risk alienating the vast majority of subscribers who have only analog-TV sets.

"The FCC tentatively concluded in 2001 that such a dual-carriage requirement would be unconstitutional, and nothing about this proposal changes that," Dietz said.