Martin: Dual-Cable-Carriage Rules ‘a Critical Component’
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Fears Programmers’ Lawsuit Could Derail DTV Transition
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/7/2008 11:43:00 AM
Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin Thursday called the FCC's dual-cable-carriage rules for TV stations "a critical component of the transition."
Asked at a digital-TV event in Washington, D.C., Thursday whether he agreed with National Association of Broadcasters president David Rehr that a suit by programmers to overturn that carriage requirement could derail the DTV transition, Martin said it was "critical to making sure that consumers are able to do what we've all told them today, which is that if they subscribe to cable, they will be able to watch broadcast television."
Martin joined other prominent DTV-transition figures including the presidents of the cable and broadcast trade associations and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez at a Best Buy in Washington to help kick off the DTV-converter-box-coupon program. That program is run by Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and it will give up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of DTV-to-analog converter boxes.
Their message to consumers was that they needed to either subscribe to cable or satellite or buy a DTV or converter box if they wanted their analog-only TV sets to continue to receive full-power TV stations after the Feb. 17, 2009, transition to digital broadcasting.
The FCC has asked for $20 million for DTV education in its fiscal-year-2009 budget. Martin was asked Thursday whether that money -- which won't come until September 2009 at the earliest -- was coming too late. He said he didn't think so.
As a cable-TV consumer it seems only fair to me that I should be able to watch open TV anytime the programming selection I have paid for fails to provide me with something I feel like watching. Unfortunately, lately this has been an ever more frequent occurence. I often feel like my pay-TV provider is playing me for a chump, for the vast majority of filmes offered are of B quality, good neuron-stimulating filmes are as rare as monkeys in Alaska and when they do appear, hardly ever repeat, while the few blockbusters available are repeated to exhaustion. Also, I do not recall ever having agreed in my contract to be subjected to so many commercials in such everlastingly long station breaks. Speaking of commercials, there ought to be a law against carriers turning up the volume in their transmissions of commercials. This nasty habit is aggressive to consumers and we who are not stoopid or hearing impaired are weary of being treated as though we were both. I am anxious for the promised future days of pure On Demand programming, that will free me from the need to channel hop all over the place looking for something worth watching as I wear out my mute button in a futile attempt to escape getting blasted by excess decibels. Back to the Dual Carraige law, you guys had better make it stick, because the way things are going, its a toss-up whether that "something worth watching" will be on Pay or Open TV.
Lanora Whitted - 2/9/2008 5:55:00 AM EST
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