What we had here....


…was a failure to communicate.

There seems to be some confusion over the FCC's agenda item on must-carry digital carriage scheduled for its April 25 meeting.

I have seen it referred to in print–and electrons–in at least a couple of places as the FCC's multicast must-carry proposal, which was pulled off the docket last June after the chairman could not muster the votes for passage.

I have it on very good authority that that is not what the commission meant by the following agenda notice: "SUMMARY:  The Commission will consider a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning issues related to mandatory cable carriage of digital broadcast television signals after the conclusion of the digital television (“DTV”) transition."

Cable is currently required only to carry a broadcaster's digital signal after the transition, which could theoretically leave some analog cable customers without a signal, though if cable has its way there will be few of those left and the industry says it has no plans to leave those few in the lurch.

It's understandable that people might read that FCC notice as pertaining to the multicast issue, but it is instead a reference to a story first reported by Multichannel News' Ted Hearn that the Chairman was considering a proposal to require cable to deliver both analog and digital signals to viewers after the transition to all-digital broadcasting to insure that cable is delivering a "viewable" signal to subs, as is its statutory mandate.

That is a big issue with cable, which doesn't think the FCC mandate is necessary, or helpful.for that matter. But it is not as big a deal as if the FCC were about to adopt multicast must-carry, which cable considers the extension of an already constitutionally suspect policy and one that will deprive it of bandwidth it could put to better use for advanced services to its subscribers.