NCTA Rejects NAB's Latest DTV-Cast Plan


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

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association last Wednesday 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 rejected in January 2001, over First Amendment concerns.

"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 and the Association of Maximum Service Television pitched the plan to the FCC last Tuesday.

Key term: TV stations could elect must-carry status for either the analog or digital signal, and seek retransmission-consent terms for the non-must-carry signal.

To cable, it's the equivalent of dual must-carry. Many stations would elect must-carry for the digital signal, which would be seen only in homes with digital boxes or DTV sets, about 30% of cable subscribers. Cable systems would be forced to provide an analog copy of the digital signal or risk alienating the vast majority of subscribers.