Willner Fights for Dual Carriage Exemption


Washington – In House testimony to be delivered Wednesday, Insight Communications CEO Michrael Willner calls for a blanket exemption for small cable TV operators from new digital TV station carriage rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in September.

“While small systems have a strong interest in and will ensure that their customers can receive the broadcasters’ signal after the digital transition, they should not be forced

to use their limited capacity for dual carriage when rural and smaller market customers are demanding advanced services, like faster broadband and digital telephone,” Willner will testify, according to an advanced copy of his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

Last month, the FCC said that cable systems that didn’t convert to all-digital platforms by Feb. 17, 2009 had to provide viewers with analog and digital versions of local TV stations that demanded cable carriage of their signals. The dual carriage requirement is to sunset in three years.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin refused to provide a blanket waiver for small systems, holding out for a rule that requires them to seek individual waivers from the agency.

Willner said a waiver from the FCC wouldn’t be a daring move because it has had bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for a long time.

“The FCC should have provided an exemption for small systems, just like this committee did in 2005,” Willner’s testimony says in a reference to DTV legislation that was not enacted into law.

Willner’s company is the ninth largest cable MSO, with 1.3 million subscribers in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.