The National Cable & Telecommunications Association was celebrating a big victory Tuesday with the Federal Communications Commission's decision to sunset the analog/digital dual must-carry mandate for hybrid cable systems after a six-month transition period.
"We commend chairman Genachowski and other commissioners for the adoption of a forward-looking, pro-consumer order that will promote the deployment of faster broadband and the expansion of new and exciting digital services," NCTA president Michael Powell said in a statement following the FCC's release of the order, which was voted late Monday in advance of the June 12 deadline after which the mandate would have sunset immediately. "With the majority of all households now enjoying digital services, the cable industry will maximize its bandwidth to provide innovative services that connect consumers to things they care about most. And while some customers have yet to make the transition to digital, cable providers will continue to work hard to make that conversion as smooth as possible."
The FCC said in the order that key to making it work will be sufficient notice to customers, provisions of converter boxes at no more than $2 a month and no groundswell of complaint from viewers, which could potentially trigger reinstatement of the analog carriage mandate on a case-by-case basis.
Broadcasters had lobbied hard against the sunset, saying it could adversely affect millions of viewers.